Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Baker's Corner: Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

Look who decided to finally show up on the blog 😝 I know folks....sporadic appearances are no good. Just as I wrapped up a long and eventful holiday to India and was getting into the groove, I will be leaving in a few days for yet another trip to the homeland 😛 What's more is that after I get back from this trip, I have my parents visit to look forward to at the end of the month. But after they leave, I will be staying put for a while (I think!) and don't expect any other visitors (but one never knows!) so that should free up some of my time and energy to commit to blogging. 

Biscotti known also as cantuccini, are Italian almond biscuits that originated in the city of Prato. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked". It encompassed oven-baked goods that were baked twice, so they became very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Biscotti are oblong-shaped, dry and crunchy biscuits that can be enjoyed as is or served alongside a beverage (traditionally, sweet fortified wine such as Vin Santo).

Not everyone has a thing for biscotti. They may be considered as glorified rusks to many but modern versions incorporate ingredients and flavours to make them more fancy and interesting. And they are great to dunk in coffee, tea or even plain milk so they can double-up as a mid-morning or evening snack. I swapped the traditional almonds for pistachios and used dried cranberries (which I love!). For flavour, I added fennel powder, cardamom powder and nutmeg to give the biscuits a spice-infused perfume. You may use chocolate, citrus zest, any kind of dried fruit or nut and spice powders such as cinnamon, anise seed and five-spice. 

Don't let the twice-baked tag fool you into thinking these biscuits are fiddly. They are truly simple to make, do not require any special cooking equipment and are easily customizable (you can control the amount of sugar and the flavorings to suit your preference). Moreover, biscotti can last for eternity! Well, not exactly eternity but you get what I mean right? 😆 Since they are baked twice, there is little to no moisture in them and can keep as room temperature for several weeks. I stored mine in an air-tight box and kept them on the dining table and they were gone in no time. These biscuits also make for the perfect edible gifts. 

I'm off to finish sorting, packing and making never-ending lists! I'll be back with more stuff real soon. Meanwhile, if you have absolutely nothing else to do and bored out of your mind, you can always catch snippets of my home trip on Instagram 😛

Ciao 🙋

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

Preparation time: 20-30 mins
Baking time: 25 + 30 mins
Makes: 21-25 biscotti
Recipe category: Italian/Dessert
Recipe level: Easy


2 cups plain/all-purpose flour
3/4 cup slivered/chopped pistachios
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
3 green cardamom pods, seeds finely crushed
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

1. Adjust rack to center position and heat the oven to 350 degree (~180 deg C). Line a baking tray with wax or parchment paper.

2. In a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, turn the fennel seeds into a fine powder. Pound the cardamom seeds till fine. Place the flour, fennel seed powder, cardamom powder, nutmeg, sugar, baking powder, salt, nuts and cranberries in a large bowl and stir to combine. 

3. In a small bowl combine the eggs, butter and vanilla and whisk to fully combine. Tip: Whisking for longer until the mixture becomes pale may help reducing the 'egginess' of the final product. 

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix to combine until a rough dough forms.

5. Dump the dough onto a work surface and knead a couple of times until the dough comes together. Add extra flour only if necessary. Start to form the dough into a big, fat cigar and cut it in half. 

Note: The most tricky aspect when making biscotti is that the dough is often sticky and a little hard to work with. Working with slightly damp hands to quickly mold the dough into its log shape is one way to go. A bench knife or scraper also comes in handy to pat and coax it along.

6. Form each half into a cigar about 1 inch thick, 2 inches wide and about 9-10 inches long. Place them onto the parchment sheet and lightly press with fingers to slightly flat cigars. If you want longer biscotti, flatten them more than what is shown. 

7. Bake for 25 minutes reversing the pan halfway through. The bars will be firm to the touch and just slightly browned. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 300 degrees F (150 deg C). 

8. Let the bars cool on the parchment paper for 10 minutes. Remove the bars to a cutting board using two spatulas. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the bars on an angle about 1/2 inch tick to form the biscotti.  If you leave the bars to cool for too long the dough will become too hard and it will be difficult to cut, but if you cut them when they are hot, the slices will crumble.

I feel mine were a bit on the thicker side. You can definitely go thinner. 

9. Lay them back on the parchment paper with either cut side down and place back in oven for 15 minutes. Turn each biscuit to expose the other cut side and place in oven for another 15 minutes. 

10. Let cool completely on a rack to room temperature. Place biscotti in an airtight container.

11. Serve as is or along with a beverage of choice. 

  • Work with slightly damp hands if you find the dough too sticky
  • Flatten the bars to make them wider if you desire long and thin biscotti
  • After the second bake make sure that the biscotti cools on a wire rack to allow them to crisp completely.
  • Biscotti improve in flavor if made 1 to 2 days ahead. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature
  • You can also freeze the biscotti for several months


No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think of this post? You can leave a message to let me know. Thanks!

Please note that I reserve the right to delete any comments that I deem inappropriate, offensive, spam or self-advertising. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...