I love different flavours with biscotti so I have gone for what I think is a festive cherry and clementine version, studded with chopped pistachios.
I have dipped the biscotti in chocolate here as I love the colour contrast you get, not to mention the lovely taste of dark chocolate that works so well with the sweetness of the biscuit and the citrus flavour of the clementines.
Flavour and texture are crucial in any biscotti: the taste should certainly pack a real punch as you eat them and while they should be very crisp, they should melt away easily in the mouth as you crunch into them.
Biscotti are great just as they are or dipped in tea, coffee, dessert wine or, my favourite, a chocolate sauce.
The basic biscotti dough
I like to add ground nuts and almond extract to the main dough, which might not be at all traditional, but they add a great flavour. Any ground nuts work brilliantly, whether ground finely or coarsely.
For the second bake I prefer a very slow bake and at a reduced temperature so that they dry out gently, giving perfect crispness without colouring too much. Some recipes go for higher temperatures – but I find slowly and at a low temperature gives the best results.
Other than those changes, the proportions are pretty much in line with many biscotti recipes.
Cherry and clementine biscotti: makes about 16
The standard biscotti dough:
- 130g plain white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 125g caster sugar
- 55g almonds or pistachio, ground or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 large egg
- finely grated zest of 3 large clementines
- 100g dried cherries, roughly chopped
- a small handful of roughly chopped pistachios, optional
(1) Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Mix in the sugar and nuts. Beat the egg with the almond extract and the vanilla extract, if using. Add the egg, a little at a time, and mix well starting with a wooden spoon and then using your hands, adding enough of the egg until the ingredients just come together to form a firm dough.
(2) On a lightly floured surface, gently roll the dough to a cylinder about 2″ in diameter. Transfer to a baking tray lined with non-stick greaseproof paper, making sure they are well apart if making more than one.
(3) Bake for 35 minutes at 140C(fan): they will have spread, have taken on just a bit of colour and have rustic cracks along the top. Remove from the oven. If they have spread into each other, carefully run a sharp knife down the join: all will be fine!
(4) Reduce the oven temperature to 120C (fan). Leave the partially-baked dough for about 15 minutes until cool enough to handle, at which point they will have firmed up a little. The inside will be quite sticky, though.
(5) Using a sharp serrated knife slice each piece diagonally, going for about 1cm thickness, wiping the knife if it gets dough stuck on it. Place onto lined baking trays, cut-side up. NB: as long as the knife is sharp, you should be able to cut clean slices without breaking any. If any do break, however, lightly push them together: the stickyness makes this easy!
(6) Bake at the reduced temperature for between 45 minutes to an hour until they are firm to the touch, rotating the trays after about 30 minutes.
(7) Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely – the biscotti will crisp up further as they cool. Store in an airtight container.