In case you think that biscotti are just too complicated and rather uppity for their own good, I can assure you that they’re not – they’re really just fancy rusks that have been cut into thin slices (with apologies to any Italians out there). Biscotti are actually quite easy to make and once you have a good basic recipe, you can vary the flavourings to your heart’s content.
This recipe actually came about rather organically. First my friend Alice gave me some crystallised ginger for Christmas, which got me thinking about how to use it. I’d been craving biscotti so I decided it would be a good opportunity to try making some ginger-flavoured biscotti – but it felt like something was missing…
Then I was browsing Pinterest for a completely different recipe for a main meal and suddenly rosemary, which was one of the ingredients, caught my eye, somehow I made a connection (clearly the biscotti conundrum was sitting somewhere at the back of my mind) and I began to wonder what ginger and rosemary would taste like together. I decided it was worth a try – then I simply added the nuts I had on hand, which happened to be walnuts, and some coarse Himalayan salt for extra taste and crunch. And lo and behold, it worked! 🙂
For those who haven’t done it before, there are two stages to making biscotti (and rusks). In the first, you bake the dough and in the second, you put the pieces back in the oven to dry out a bit. I personally don’t like biscotti that break your teeth if you choose not to dunk them, so I aimed to make these crunchy but not rock-hard. The longer you cook them though, the harder they’ll get.
You can make them any size you like from mini to seriously big but the key is to slice them fairly thinly. That’s what makes them look fancy and it’s also why they’re a lot quicker to cook than rusks.
For this recipe, I would suggest chopping the rosemary fairly finely, so it just adds a delicate flavour rather than making you feel like you’re eating pieces of shrubbery. If rosemary doesn’t appeal or you can’t get your hands on some, you could also leave it out completely. The recipe is very adaptable so feel free to experiment with the flavours too – use different nuts, other crystallised or dried fruit or even chocolate chips instead if you like.
Hmmm, dark chocolate and rosemary biscotti…. I wonder….?
- 100g butter
- ½c castor sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2c flour + some extra
- 1t baking powder
- ½t coarse sea or Himalayan salt
- 2T crystallised ginger, chopped
- 1½T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2T nuts, chopped – pecans or walnuts work well
Preheat the oven to 180°C and cut a piece of baking paper to fit a large, flat baking tray. Prepare your flavourings by chopping them up as necessary.
Beat the butter to soften it then add the sugar.
Beat well until you have a light and fluffy mixture.
Add the eggs and about 1T of flour, and beat again.
Add the salt, ginger, rosemary and nuts and beat yet again.
Now add the rest of the 2 cups of flour and the baking powder.
The mixture gets quite thick so if the beater starts struggling, you may need to use a spoon instead to mix in the last bit of flour. You should end up with a soft and pliable dough – if the mixture is still too wet, just add a bit more flour.
Sprinkle some flour on a large board or your kitchen counter and place half the dough on it.
Use your hands to shape it into a log-like shape about 6cm wide and 1½ cm thick (or bigger or smaller, depending on what size biscotti you want to end up with).
Then carefully move it to the baking tray. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until they are risen and just starting to brown on the bottom and edges.
Remove from the oven and let the logs cool for about 5 minutes or until you can handle them. In the meantime, turn the oven down to 140°C.
When they are cool enough to touch, remove them from the baking tray and place a cooling rack on the baking tray instead. Slice each loaf on the diagonal to create slices of about 1cm thick.
Carefully lay these slices on the cooling rack – the baking tray underneath will catch the crumbs.
Bake them for another 20 – 30 minutes at the lower temperature. They are done when they have coloured slightly more and dried out enough to be crunchy (break one in half to check).
Let them cool completely before storing them in an air-tight container, where they will keep for about a week (if they last that long!).
Serve with tea or coffee, or give them away as gifts.
© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2015