Introduction: Biscotti With Chocolate, Cherry, and Orange

About: A dog called Meg.

Biscotti are hard Italian cookies that are baked twice, hence the name, BI-scotti. they originated in ancient Rome as army provisions due to their long shelf life, and regained popularity in the Renaissance with the aristocracy.

These biscotti are quite simple to make and easy to customise to whatever you have in your pantry, ideal for quarantine. Serve them with strong coffee or a dessert wine (traditionally vin Santo) for a sophisticated dessert.

Supplies

175g plain flour
50g cocoa
150g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
75g walnuts
100g dried cherries and candied peel (a bit of chocolate also works nicely)
Zest of half an orange
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
50g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Note: Any fruits and nuts may be used, just keep the quantities the same, if not using cocoa use 225g of flour, and if using self raising only use a pinch of baking powder.
The dried fruit can be soaked in marsala or amaretto the night before if wanted, but I rarely bother.

Step 1: Dry Ingredients

Into a large bowl sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and sugar, and combine. If you're thinking of skipping sieving, at least make sure there's no lumps in the baking powder.
Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

Step 2: Flavours

Chop the fruits and nut coarsely, leaving pieces about 1.5cm or so. (Roughly 3/5 of an inch for the Americans)
Before zesting the orange run it under hot water and scrub it slightly to remove the wax coating that protects the fruit during transport.

Step 3: Liquid Ingredients

Crack the first egg carefully above a small saucer and tip the yolk between the two halfs of the shell until the white is gone, then place in a larger bowl, and crack the second egg into it. Add a pinch of salt, this helps the eggs mix smoothly, and whisk until smooth.

Melt the butter in the microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring in-between, once it is fully melted allow it to cool then mix with the eggs and vanilla extract.

(I'd recommend saving the egg white for meringue later.)

Step 4: Shaping

Cut the ball of dough in half and squish it into two logs, about 20cm long (7-8 inches) try to avoid rolling it and press fairly hard so it doesn't crumble later.

Place both logs on a baking tray and cook for about 30-35 minutes at 180°C (350°F)
Once cooked let sit on a cooling tray until cold.

Step 5: Mixing

Mix the fruits and nuts with the dry ingredients and combine until they are evenly coated. Make a dip in the center of the bowl and pour in the egg mix, fold the edges of the well into the center, until roughly combined. At this point you may find it easier to use your hands than a spoon.
Add more flour or a very slight dash of milk if too wet or dry, but not unless it really needs it as the dough often just needs more stirring and is naturally quite dry and crumbly.

Step 6:

Now's a good time to pet the excessively needy spaniel who has been cruelly deprived of Biscotti dough and won't let me forget it.

Step 7: Cutting the Biscotti

Preheat the oven to 160°C (about 300°F)
Carefully transfer the logs a chopping board and cut at a diagonal into finger width slices. I find a serrated knife works best, but whatever sort you use make sure it's sharp.
If you find it's crumbling it might not be cool enough, your blade could be too blunt, or you're not holding the log stead enough.
Gently move the slices back to the tray and cook for twenty minutes.

(The spare crumbs make an excellent ice cream topping.)

Step 8: Consume!

Leave them to cool fully before moving to a tin or eating, while the outside may seem safe to eat the dried fruit can still be hot enough to burn you.
They can be stored for a week or so in an airtight container, though they're unlikely to last that long.

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