There are so many reasons to try making your own Italian biscotti. These twice-cooked biscuits can be adapted to include any of your favourite nuts, fruit or chocolate – they’ll keep for ages, and friends and family will appreciate a jar at Christmas. Ready to give them a try?
The Biscotti Tradition
Biscotti (“twice cooked”) are Italian biscuits that are traditionally enjoyed alongside an early morning espresso – or an after-dinner glass of sweet dessert wine. Naturally crunchy and dry, they make great dunkers – and have the added bonus of a long keeping time, too.
Biscotti are often made during holiday seasons, and they make excellent gifts and because they can be made far ahead, they’re perfect for putting into airtight jars, tying with ribbon, and giving out at Christmas or Easter. Traditionally made with almonds, biscotti can be varied with the addition of espresso, vanilla, cinnamon or nuts. It’s very important to begin with high-quality eggs and butter, as the taste of the simple ingredients will shine through in the finished result.
Hazelnut And Chocolate Biscotti Recipe
To make this into a plainer biscotti, swap the hazels in the recipe for chopped almonds and ditch the chocolate topping – for a sweeter version, replace the nuts with chocolate chips!
- 75g (3oz) unsalted butter.
- 100g (4oz) Demerara sugar.
- 100g (4oz) caster sugar.
- 2 large eggs, beaten.
- 300g (11oz) plain flour.
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder.
- 100g (4oz) hazelnuts, skinned and chopped.
- Pinch of salt.
First prepare the nuts: if they have skins, put them onto a baking tray and pop into a 180ºC oven for 5 minutes. Then put the nuts into a clean tea-towel and rub gently so that the skins flake off. Put the nuts on a chopping board or in a food processor and chop or pulse until they are quite well chopped (you’ll want some bigger pieces in there as well).
Turn up the oven temperature to 200ºC. Using an electric whisk, food processor or wooden spoon, beat together the butter and sugars until they are paler in colour and fluffy. Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture, beating until well combined. Now sift in the flour and baking powder, add the salt, and stir in. Finally fold in the cooled hazelnuts.
Divide the sticky dough into two pieces and shape them into slipper-shaped loaves on a baking tray. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the loaves are golden. Turn down the oven to 170ºC (160ºC if you have a fan oven) and, when the loaves have cooled enough to handle, use a bread knife to cut them diagonally into 1cm slices. Arrange the slices on the baking tray and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack (residual heat will cause them to soften in storage).
Put the unglazed biscotti into one airtight tin – they’ll keep for up to 8 weeks. If you’d like to dip them in Chocolate to Serve, melt 100g dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir once or twice, adding 1tsp vegetable oil, until it’s smooth. Dip the biscotti into the chocolate one at a time, coating top, bottom, or half of each biscuit as preferred. Cool on a wire rack to allow the chocolate to harden before serving.