Blueberry & Almond Biscotti
Ever since I was taken as a pretentious (and greedy) 13 year old to a cutting edge Italian in North London to sample (this was the ’70’s remember) bresaola for the first time, real fresh pasta, deep fried artichokes and a whole host of other new tastes I’ve been hooked on cantuccini (and vin santo of course which was the highlight of the meal) and biscotti. I’ve tried extremely “authentic” recipes with a really high proportion of almonds and egg whites to leaven but the result was a sort of baked marzipan affair – very dense and very almondy but not light and crunchy at all. This recipe is way simpler than it sounds and although yes there are two baking steps the good thing is that because of the dehydration and resulting dryness of the little biscuits they keep for an age in an airtight container.
I tried them with the blueberries for a change and I like how they look – but these will not keep for an age as the fruit is fresh – best to eat in two to three days which is hardship indeed.
Ingredients (makes 4 mini logs and approx 35-40 biscotti)
225g plain flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
50g ground almonds
100g almonds, skins on
150g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
Gadgets and Gizmos
As the mixture is so easy all you really need is a bowl and a spoon to mix the basic mix and then some baking trays and baking paper/parchment.
The basic “logs” and the first baking at 180C:
Place all the ingredients in a bowl except the blueberries. Fork the mixture through or mix with a spoon until it comes together. As it comes together use your hands to form a ball. Now divide into 4. Flour your hands and the work surface.
If using blueberries or other soft fruit you need to take one of the pieces and just flatten it into a long rectangle and place the blueberries in the middle and then just roll it up like a roulade. Give it a squeeze and then pat it so it looks like a mini log. This way the blueberries stay intact.
Place the logs on a baking sheet or two sheets (they do expand but not dramatically) that has baking paper on it or if you don’t have make sure its oiled well. bake at 180C for approx 30 minutes or until they are a gentle golden brown. Let them cool a little but not totally and cut them on the diagonal (I grip them with a tea towel to avoid scalded hands) with a bread knife.
The second baking:
Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C
Place all your little diagonals on the tray(s) again and bake until golden and crispy. Its very easy to get distracted at this stage and end up with burnt biscotti so do keep an eye on them! Cool them down on a wire rack and ONLY when perfectly cold put them in an airtight container.
Improvs and Ideas
Hazlenut biscotti are divine – just substitute hazlenuts. For the classic almond variety skip the blueberries but do add a few drops of real almond essence. And for really nice end of meal biscuits I add a tablespoon of fennel seeds to the almond recipe but no almond essence.