I have never made Biscotti. I have often thought about it and have lots of recipes that I have bookmarked and saved for that moment when the inspiration finally gets played out in the kitchen, – some are gluten-free versions and some are not. But for some reason I have never managed to put the intention into action……………
Biscotti (also known as Cantuccini) originated in Italy and are long almond biscuits which are twice-baked to give them their characteristic dry, crunchy texture. The first bake is made with the dough in cylindrical form, after which the dough is cut into slices and baked a second time. Apparently they originated from the need to produce baked goods that could be stored for long periods of time without deteriorating. They are traditionally made without the addition of fat, but use a base of flour, almonds, eggs, sugar and nuts, with the second baking defining the degree of dryness. A good Biscotti should have a really crisp ‘snap’.
The recipe that I have chosen to use is from the book ‘Gluten Free Baking’ by Michael McCamley who, in 2010 won the UK Gluten Free Chef of the Year competition. I have adapted his recipe for almond and pistachio Biscotti slightly, mainly because I didn’t have all the ingredients to hand and couldn’t be bothered to make another trip to the supermarket. Sometimes in life (and in the kitchen) you just have to make do with what you have, which meant substituting the suggested cranberries and dates with dried apple and dried strawberry.
These Biscotti have the characteristic hard bite that any good Biscotti should, but as you chew, it is closely followed by creamy-textured almond swirling round the palate. A few seconds in you start to get the flavour of the other nuts…… first the sweet pistachio kicks in, and then the wonderful rich dark nuttiness of the hazelnut takes over, mingled with the sweet apricot, chewy slightly tart apple and sticky strawberry. These Biscotti really do offer a wonderful variety of flavours and textures which are experienced individually, yet blend perfectly to tantalise the taste buds.
They were incredibly easy to make too….. And as biscuits go, they are probably reasonably good for you – full of nuts and fruit! My daughter likes them best dipped in yoghurt (or tea, or anything else she can find to dip).
Pistachio, Hazelnut, Apricot & Apple Biscotti – gluten free (adapted from a recipe by Michael McCamley)
450g gluten free flour blend (I used mix A from this post)
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
245g caster sugar (I used golden)
10g ground almonds
3 large eggs – beaten
60g flaked almonds
60g pistachio nuts
90g dried apricots – chopped
20g dried apple – cubed
40g dried strawberry – chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180⁰ C / 350⁰ F / Gas 4.
- Line a baking sheet with baking paper
- Weigh and mix together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, caster sugar, ground almonds and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the beaten eggs and the remaining nuts, dried fruit and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly to form an evenly-distributed dough.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each into a sausage-shape about 5 cm/2 inches in diameter.
- Place on a baking tray, leaving space between each roll of dough. Using a small piece of baking paper placed over the top of each roll to prevent sticking, slightly flatten, using your finger tips.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven.
- Leave the oven turned on and using a sharp knife, cut each roll diagonally into 8 to 10 slices about 2½ cm/1 inch thick.
- Place the slices back on the baking tray cut side down and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes.
- Turn the Biscotti over and bake for approximately 10 minutes more.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. The Biscotti should feel dry and crisp.
- If the Biscotti do not feel ready/are too soft when you take from the oven, turn off the oven and leave them in there to continue to dry out as the oven cools, checking frequently to make sure they do not burn.