Monday, 16 January 2012

Coffee, hazelnut, walnut and raisin biscotti

Hmmm... biscotti... The year before last we went to Italy at Christmas-time and spent a few days with a lovely friend and her family, who gave us the best Christmas we've had in our lives... It was so memorable and warm that everything about it wakes up cuddly feelings in me still, and in-between the madness of food food food that we had, I remember something I had never tried before, "ricciarelli", crunchy outside and soft inside, which are some unique cookies from Siena, traditionally eaten at Christmas time with a glass of Vin Santo.

I love Vin Santo. Have I ever said how much I love Vin Santo? I brought a bottle back with me when I went to Santorini a few years ago (they make a really nice "version" there!) and I have been treasuring it to the point that I was giving severe killing looks to my partner's father when he saw it and had a few glassfuls at some point... There's still some left, and I use it very sparingly, as I'm not sure I can find as good a bottle anytime soon, but thinking of Vin Santo and that Christmas, another thing came up in my memories. Biscotti! I also love biscotti, they are amazing on their own, but even better with a cup of coffee to dip in, made a tiny bit softer to bite and also absorbing all the coffee flavours like a sponge...

We make some similar cookies in Greece (paximadia), which I absolutely love and they follow the same kind of double-baking method, only they are usually flavoured with aniseed. I had never made biscotti before, but neither do I like the hard as cement versions you can find in British shops (I remember even some from Konditor & Cook were inedible without serious coffee/tea dippage), so I thought I would try to make some, to see if a. they would turn out genuine and remind me or the ones in Roma, and b. they would be slightly less tooth-breaking than the shop-bought ones you can find here.

They came out quite good, not as tooth-breaking (phew...) and were praised all around. I have to say I'm quite happy with my first attempt, and I'll be trying them again in the future, maybe with some different flavour combinations (pistachio anyone?) A little caffettino makes this a match made in heaven!

Coffee, hazelnut, walnut and raisin biscotti
Source: Mixture of different recipes I found online

Makes around 40

  • 210g plain flour, sifted
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp instant coffee powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 60g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 55g hazelnuts
  • 55g walnuts
  • 30g raisins

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Blend the flour, baking powder, coffee, sugar and the pinch of salt in a food processor for a few seconds, then add the butter and mix until it all looks like breadcrumbs. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and blend again until it becomes a smooth dough.

Knead the dough on a floured countertop, incorporating the hazelnuts, walnuts and raisins. Divide into two parts and, using lightly floured hands, shape each into a log of about 20 centimetres long. Place the logs on a lined baking tray, pressing the top down to make it a bit more flat.

Bake for 35 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes, and reduce the oven temperature to 170°C. Cut the logs into one-centimetre slices, place them sideways on the tray and bake for 30 minutes (turning once halfway during the cooking time). Cool, and store in an airtight container, they will last for about 2-3 weeks.


Katerina said...

Well as they say practice makes perfect. Your biscotti look very appetizing and I am sure in your next attempts you will be able to get to the softer version you look for. For me on or two of these cuties would go perfectly with my cup of tea!

Venetia said...

Oh yeap! I will definitely try them again, I'm thinking of attempting a crossover of biscotti and paximadia, a kind of paximadobiscotti!

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