Biscotti with Almonds and Figs

21 Nov

We love these little festive biscuits with an espresso or coffee morning – they always seem to be a treat to buy from an Italian deli in London, as they seem expensive – but when you look at the ingredients, I suppose they are not really. But I found this recipe somewhere ages ago and have made them for us and our friends ever since and now would just never buy them.  Don’t be afraid of the way the “logs” look when you take them out after the first baking – they look pretty dreadful – but once they are sliced diagonally and then baked again, they look like the ones you buy in the shops (you may say a pointless exercise then, but it is fun to make them –and very easy!)

 

Makes 24-28

 

50 g butter

225g plain flour

150 g caster sugar (I just use granulated!)

pinch of salt

Half teaspoon baking powder

75 g whole almonds with skin (or you can use pistachios) chopped

100 g dried figs, or cranberries would be nice for Christmas, or apricots or cherries work well too, chopped – just use what you like

Zest of half lemon (I use the zest of a whole lemon)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Pre-heat the ovento 180 c,350 f, Gas mark 4

 

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  Sieve the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into roomy mixing bowl.  Add the fruit and nuts and lemon zest,  whatever you are using – don’t be tempted to add more than the recipe – it may break up the dough, which is already a little crumbly so stick to the quantities above.  Mix in well together.  Take the melted butter, egg yolk and whole egg, vanilla extract and give it a good old whisk with a fork.  Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add the egg mixture to it.  Stir firmly but take your time, until the mixture comes together in a ball.  I find flour varies and so if it is a little too crumbly, just add the smallish splash of milk until you have something that will come together in a ball – divide the mixture in two.

 

Cover a baking sheet with baking parchment (or brown parcel paper will do if you haven’t got any parchment).  Lightly flour a smooth surface and place one of your biscotti balls on top and then just lightly roll into a 10 cm log, you can just pat each end every couple of rolls to keep it nice and firm, but don’t overdo it or it will fall apart – you don’t want a skinny roll!  Place on the baking tray and then make the other log.  Place them side by side on the tray, leaving plenty of space between them (about 5 cms should do it) as they spread a little.  Bake on the middle shelf for about 35minutes, until golden (but not brown) and firm to the touch.   As said before, these kind of look like flat, gone wrong rock cakes at this point, but trust me on this, you will end up with the real thing!   Just leave to cool on the baking tray and go and do something else for an hour or so!  Turn the oven off.

 

When you come back pre heat the oven to 170c, 325f, Gas Mark 3 and cover 2 baking trays with baking parchment.

 

Using a sharp knife slice the biscotti on the diagonal into slices no thicker than 1 cm each.  Arrange these on the baking tray in a single layer.  Just be gentle and they should slice easily without breaking.  Bake on the middle shelf for around 20 minutes until crisp and  dark golden – keep an eye on them as oven vary and you don’t want them too dark.  You may like to swap the trays around halfway through cooking to ensure an even colour.  Cool and store, or if you are giving away as presents, put into cellophane bags and tie with ribbon.  They do need to be stored in an airtight container and best eaten within a week (this won’t be a problem!).

 

If your attempt fails the first time, stick with it as I promise you, you will have fun making these, they are just great to take to friends with a bottle of wine for after dinner, to have in a tin at home for when people drop by for coffee, or they make lovely tree presents at Christmas time if you package them beautifully,  and they are really easy to make without having a load of ingredients in your cupboard which you will only use once.

Do not be tempted to use self raising flour, or omit the baking powder, small amount though it is!  People forget the cooking is a science and unless you are prepared to experiment 6 times before achieving a good result, my advice is always stick to the recipe where baking is concerned.  Do experiment with the fruit and nuts though.

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One Response to “Biscotti with Almonds and Figs”

  1. fincafood Nevenka November 23, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Gail, you are too modest. The biscotti that you made may have looked like the ones you get in the shops, but they certainly didn’t taste the same. They were divine! Dry and crisp, but not hard like some that one can buy, they just melted in the mouth. And the fig and almond, mix just superb!

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