Biscotti originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked/baked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Such nonperishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars during olden times.
I always pictured biscotti as an adult version of the rusk cookies mothers gave their teething toddlers as snacks because they are thick, dry and hard. I like the flavour of biscotti but not the texture. But after eating the thin sliced version of biscotti, my view was changed. The rock hard chunks are now crunchy fragrant crisps. As the cookies are sliced thinly before their second bake, it allowed the flavors of the added dried fruits and/or nuts to come through as one nibbles on them.
Having said that, traditionally, biscotti are made without addition of butter and are served with a drink, into which they may be dunk. In Italy they are typically served as an after-dinner dessert with a Tuscan fortified wine called vin santo. Outside Italy, they are served with coffee such as cappuccinos and lattes or black tea.
Rum and Raisin Biscotti
470g all purpose flour (I used unbleached organic flour)
198g fine sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
100g raisins (I used organic ones)
79ml dark rum
2 tsp orange zest
Steps to bake:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
- Using a whisk attachment on medium high speed, whisk eggs and sugar till mixture is light in colour and thick, approximately 5-6 min using a mixer. It can take up to 10 min using a hand held mixer. (This step creates a porous texture that lightens the finished cookies)
- Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add in vanilla extract and soaking rum from the raisins (not the raisins). Mix till it is incorporated.
- Add in orange zest and follow by raisins. Once all is incorporated, turn off the mixer.
- Fold in by hand the flour mixture. Make sure that there are no streaks of flour left. The mixture will form a sticky dough.
- Divide dough into 2 portions and form each portion into a 7cm wide x 2 cm tall log, on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. The dough can be very sticky, you may need to use lightly floured hands to form the log.
- Place the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and bake until dough is firm and lightly golden brown, 20- 25min, rotate baking sheet halfway through.
- Once baked, let cool on wire rack for 20 min.
- Line 2 baking sheet with baking paper.
- Using a sharp serrated knife, cut log into 0.5cm thickness, place the cut side down on the baking sheet. (Only a sharp serrated knife is able to achieve thinly sliced the cookies, else the cookies will disintegrate into crumbs)
- Bake the biscotti at 180 degrees Celsius until they are crisp and golden brown, about 15 min. Rotate sheets and flip biscotti halfway through baking.
- Let cool on wire rack after baking.
- I drizzled some melted dark (70% cocao) Callebaut chocolate on the finished biscotti.
- Biscotti can be stored in an air tight container up to 2 weeks.
This is a very basic recipe for biscotti. You can play around with additions of other kinds of dried fruits such as cranberries, cherries, blueberries, or nuts such as pistachio, almond (classic), cashew, walnut, macadamia or flavors such as coffee, tea, liquors or dried flowers. The sky is the limit in terms of the flavour pairing you can achieve with this cookie base.
Enjoy baking and eat biscotti!!
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