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Biscotti

Every home should permanently have a jar of Biscotti in the kitchen! Best biscuits ever to nibble or dunk in coffee or as the Italians do, in sherry or wine! Thanks to the clever Italians!
New style biscotti are light, crisp and irresistible and have gained popularity worldwide! These Italian “biscuits” were traditionally hard and dry and to become palatable, they were dipped into dessert wine or after dinner cappuccino. Currently many delightful variations are made which can be nibbled on as is, at any time of the day! And best of all, they are not difficult to make at home!

PREP TIME 20 minutes plus refrigeration time for the dough – see NOTE
COOK TIME 20 minutes
YIELDS ± 36 Biscotti- depending on size

Note
1. To prevent the shaped roll from spreading out to wide during baking, make the dough in advance and cover and refrigerate it at least 2 hours or preferably overnight, before shaping and baking.
2. The variations on the tray are given below – more are available on request.

2 eggs
½ cup (125 ml) sunflower oil
¾ cup (140 g / 200 ml) sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence
¾ cup (80 g / 200 ml) coarsely chopped nuts (see variations below)
1½ cup + 2 Tbsp (200 g /400 ml) cake flour
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) aniseed (optional but good)
1½ tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder

  1. Beat together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla essence very well blended. Stir in the nuts, flour, salt, aniseed and baking powder and mix well to combine evenly and form a smooth yet sticky dough.
  2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours or preferably overnight to become firmer and more manageable.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180 °C and line a large baking tray (±40 x 30 cm) with non-stick baking paper.
  4. Divide the dough into two portions and shape each portion on a lightly floured surface into a neat roll, about 30 cm long. Place the rolls onto the baking tray, allowing space for spreading.
  5. Place the baking tray into the oven and lower the temperature to 160 °C.
  6. Bake the rolls about 20 minutes or until quite firm and lightly browned. The rolls will spread out slightly while baking. Remove the baking tray from the oven and turn down the oven temperature to 100 °C – a fan oven is ideal if this facility is available.
  7. With a sharp knife, cut each roll diagonally into 1.5 cm wide slices. Place the slices cut side down on the baking tray and return to the oven.
  8. Leave the biscotti in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes to become dry and crisp and very slightly browned. Switch off the oven and cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Variations:

Hazelnut & Chocolate Biscotti
Place the hazelnuts on a small baking tray to toast in the oven at 180 °C for about 6 – 8 minutes or until the skins crack. Watch carefully while toasting to prevent nuts from scorching and become bitter. Rub off the skins before adding.
Use 1¼ cups (300 ml) of flour plus ½ cup (125 ml) of cocoa powder for the dough.

Walnut & Ginger Biscotti
Use ½ cup (125 ml) coarsely chopped walnuts and about ¼ cup (60 ml) finely diced glace ginger.

Almond & Cherry Biscotti
Use ½ cup (125 ml) coarsely chopped flaked almonds and about ¼ cup (60 ml) red glace cherries. Add ½ tsp (2.5 ml) almonds essence.

Cashew & Coffee Biscotti
Use coarsely chopped unsalted cashew nuts and add 5 ml instant coffee granules to the egg mixture.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cooking p. 744.