So, we’ve covered Christmas cake, stollen, yule log, cranberry and orange buns and parsnip crisps so far in the Christmas Series. There is a definitely baking theme emerging. Probably due to the fact my Mother is firmly in charge of the savory aspects of Christmas therefore I dare not interfere!
So to continue with the baking theme, today’s recipe is for Pistachio and Cranberry Biscotti. Not only delicious to eat, they make a fantastic gift when paired with a bottle of pudding wine or even on their own. Whilst I would love to claim credit for this idea I’ll own up and admit that I pilfered it from Waitrose Kitchen’s November edition…
I used to bake biscotti quite regularly a few years ago, using a recipe from James Martin’s “Desserts” cookbook. They were completely yummy but somehow were forgotten along the way, no doubt replaced by my latest baking fad at the time. But after spotting the the recipe for pistachio and cranberry biscotti I knew it was the perfect moment for a biscotti revival!
Biscotti are much healthier than your average biscuit and could be considered on a par with a leafy green vegetable in terms of nutrition when compared to my favourite cookies. They contain no butter and only a little sugar, with extra sweetness coming from the addition of dried fruit.
“Biscotto” literally means “twice-baked” and by cooking biscotti twice you end up with really dry, hard biscuits that store well and make excellent tea dunking material (or, if you’re a glamorous Italian, to elegantly dip into your cappuccino).
These biscotti have made it into the Christmas series a) due to the presence of cranberries, those festive little berries, and b) due to their excellent present potential as mentioned above. So if you’re lacking inspiration for the perfect present for that tricky family member or a colleague, perhaps this is the perfect solution.
Pistachio & Cranberry Biscotti
Adapted from a recipe in Waitrose Kitchen November 2013
Makes 20-26 biscotti if cut thinly otherwise about 12-15
2 eggs plus 1 extra beaten for glazing
150g caster sugar
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
65g dried cranberries
1. Toast the pistachios lightly in a frying pan before chopping them roughly.
2. Whisk the 2 eggs and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch salt and mix well with a wooden spoon. Finally stir in the pistachios and cranberries. The dough will be pretty sticky at this stage (see picture above).
3. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest for about an hour to firm up. Preheat the oven to 200°c/180°c fan/gas mark 6 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment or just grease with a little butter.
4. Once the dough has rested, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 28cm long and 5cm wide. Put this onto the baking tray and brush with the beaten egg.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minute until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool on the baking tray. Turn the oven down to 180°c/160°c/gas mark 4.
6. When cool, use a sharp knife to cut the rectangle into slices on the angle – depending how thick you want them, you’ll get between 12-26 slices. Lay them flat on the baking tray again and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning half way through, until they are golden brown on both sides.
7. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving. They will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight box.