The word ‘biscotti’ usually indicates an elongated – and rather elegant – crisp biscuit. According to Wikipedia, font of useful knowledge that it is, ‘biscotti’ comes from the Medieval Latin biscottus, meaning twice-cooked. Like cantuccini, the terse little biscuits that Carluccio’s have spent half a decade trying to push on us, biscotti are designed to be eaten for dessert, alongside coffee, liqueur or something cold and creamy, like homemade ice cream or sorbet. The great thing about biscotti is that you can add whatever you feel like to them – pistachio and orange zest, dark chocolate and sour cherry or pine nut and lemon. The basic principle is to make a biscuit dough and bake it for about 20 minutes, or until soft and golden. Then slice the half-baked dough and bake again for another 20 minutes. Serve them in a big jar or dust with icing sugar and lay them out flat on a long plate.
225g self-raising flour, plus a little more combined with icing sugar to knead
125g caster sugar
1/2tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs (room temperature)
100g hazelnuts, gently toasted, skins removed
100g semi-dark chocolate (e.g. Bournville), broken into small rough chunks
Bring eggs and butter to room temperature and beat together until pale and creamy with the vanilla extract. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, chopped and skinned hazelnuts (their skins rub off if you toast them gently in a warm oven for a few minutes). Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, stir in the chocolate chunks and mix until completely combined. Bring the dough together gently on a floured (icing sugar/flour) surface, without kneading it per se: just turn it over a few times and shape into two oblongs, about three-quarters of an inch thick. Bake on parchment for about 20 minutes or until pale golden and then slice into biscotti shapes, sprinkle some granulated sugar over them and bake again for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely and then dust with icing sugar.