I can remember when my good friend Alex first made these biscotti last year, and they were … not to go overboard or anything … sublime. Naturally they had to be on my list for a guest post and requested that she keep that in mind (i.e. take photos) when she made them again … So she did. In October.
I first made this variation on traditional Pistachio Biscotti for Christmas 2012. I like to make foodie type gifts for the adults at Christmastime, last years offerings besides the biscotti were three types of chocolate bark and seeded parmesan oatcakes and all seemed to go down well with the recipients!
I was trying to think of something slightly different to make the biscotti stand out a bit. Usually biscotti is made with pistachios and orange zest and I did do this variation a couple of years ago – along with some orange, almond and cardamom biscuits. I had picked up a selection of interesting dried fruits with a view for using them in the chocolate bark – when I thought I might utilise them in the biscotti for that extra bit of zing and rather that orange zest to try lime – and wow – the combination of the lime with the sour cherry is subtle but they really compliment each other.
For the basic biscotti recipe I used a nice little book – Marie Claire’s Easy by Michele Cranston. The book has American and UK measurements which is always handy! It is also simple and really easy to follow (hence the book’s title!) It makes about 30 – 40 biscuits.
- 125g (4 1/2 oz / 1 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
- 115g (4 oz / 1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar – I used golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 150g (5 1/2 oz / 1 cup) pistachio nuts (one bag like the photo below is just right)
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest – I substituted with lime and zested two largish limes
- (not in the original recipe but one bag of dried sour cherries – see the photo below – a small bag from Sainsbury’s is just right)
- 2 eggs
You will need to preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4 – a little lower for fan assisted ovens.
Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, pistachio nuts, cherries and lime zest together in a large bowl. Looks tasty already!
Then beat together the two eggs and make a well in the centre and fold in the dry ingredients until you have a sticky dough.
The mixture will seem too wet, the first time I ever made biscotti from this recipe I was a bit panicky thinking the dough was too wet and it wasn’t going to turn out right. But trust me! Although you may want to add a bit more flour if desired. Turn out onto a well floured surface and separate into two and roll each out into a log shape. Here is where it gets a bit tricky, so you may want to do this on a floured bit of greaseproof paper so you can easily transfer it onto your baking tray as if your dough is too sloppy it can be a bit of a nightmare trying to transfer it from said floured surface onto your baking tray. Ensure your baking trays are lined with baking / greaseproof paper. While the recipe refers to only one tray it really is best to use two.
The logs will spread slightly when cooking. Bake the logs for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and leave them to cool. Turn the oven down to 140C / 275F / Gas Mark 1 – slighly lower for fan assisted ovens. While they are cooling you can always go and have a cup of tea, flick through some scrummy recipe books or do something boring like washing up…
Once cooled get a bread knife and slice each log into thin slices – about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick. Lay the slices back onto the baking trays and bake again for a further 20 minutes – turning them halfway through to crisp up both sides. They will smell absolutely heavenly as they bake.
Let them cool down on a wire rack and try to resist having one for a little while as they will be hot – especially the cherries. Then you can pop them into a biscuit tin and enjoy them with a lovely coffee (or even tea!) They will keep in the tin for about a week to taste at their best.
When I made these last week I did it specifically to take to my parents as my Dad had told me how much he enjoyed them, he thought this batch was pretty good, even said that the pistachios tasted like they had been roasted slightly before going into the mixture. This recipe is really worth trying and it is always good to experiment with other flavours – so go on – give it a go and let us know how you got on!