Who can resist a biscuit with a cup of coffee? Not me. If there is one in the tin then I’m there! These fabulous Italian biscotti biscuits are a firm favourite of mine, and they are not too sweet so I feel just a little less guilty having one or two for elevenses.
The guys from the Italian deli on the corner tell me the correct name for these twice baked biscuits is Cantucci. Biscotti is just Italian for biscuits, all biscuits. But I think biscotti is the name that we are more familiar with, so even if it is technically wrong that’s what I am sticking with! The nuts and fruits used to flavour them can vary but, as Christmas approaches, I think the perfect combination is cranberries and pecans. Somehow they just sum up the lovely flavours of this time of year.
Now, if you can resist them they will keep for at least a month in an airtight tin in a cool place, which is a good job as this recipe makes about 50 – it’s not really worth making them in smaller quantities. They make an ideal edible festive gift. I have packed them into cellophane bags and tied them with ribbon and I think they look pretty. You can even make them a little more decadent and dip the ends in some melted chocolate. Somehow I think they work best dipped in plain or white chocolate, rather than milk but that might just be me.
- 100 g butter softened
- 200 g golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 125 g pecan nuts roughly chopped
- 50 g dried cranberries roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 450 g plain flour
- 100 g coarse cornmeal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/170°C fan/gas mark 4
- Beat together the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Add the orange zest, juice, nuts and cranberries and beat until well combined.
- Sift together the flour, cornmeal and baking powder into the bowl and beat in. Use your hands to finish bringing the mixture together to form a soft dough.
- Divide the mixture into four pieces and roll each piece into a log shape about 30cm long. Place on baking sheets and flatten slightly.
- Bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden, swapping the baking sheets around in the oven halfway through the cooking time.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/160°C Fan/gas mark 3.
- When the logs are cool enough to handle, cut the pieces diagonally into 1cm thick slices. Place cut side down on the baking sheets and return to the oven for 10 minutes until crisp and golden. Allow to cool.
Biscotti will keep for about 4 weeks if stored in an airtight container.