We’ve all seen biscotti and have probably enjoyed one of these crunchy biscuits with a cup of coffee (and quite possibly dipped!). After all, they’re ubiquitous in coffee shops. I never had the urge to make them, though, until I visited Italy. Now, these Hazelnut, Sour Cherry & Orange Biscotti transport me to Tuscany, at least in my imaginings.
Last spring I fulfilled a long-held dream and travelled to Tuscany for a food and wine tour. How was it? It was everything, and more. Seven days of staying in a villa in the Tuscan countryside, making breakfasts and dinners together as a group and spending our days travelling to Florence and a variety of hill towns. Greve. Lucca. Cortona. San Gimignano. Siena. The stuff of dreams.
One morning, our tour leader and daily cooking teacher, Jill Wilcox of Jill’s Table here in London (Canada’s London, that is), showed us how to make biscotti. I was hooked.
When I came home, I began making my own. In my research, I found many recipes online that included butter. I had a sense that adding fat isn’t authentic, so I turned to the blog Jul’s Kitchen. You see, one day my tour group didn’t leave the villa. Instead, Tuscan cooking teacher and the blogger behind Jul’s Kitchen, Giulia Scarpaleggia, provided an on-site cooking lesson. I won’t get into the wonderful details of that here, but we cooked classic Tuscan food all morning and then enjoyed a splendid lunch with our charming and talented teacher. Although Giulia didn’t make biscotti, I knew I could trust her recipes. And so I used her Tuscan Biscotti with Pistachios and White Chocolate as the starting point for mine.
Hazelnut, Orange and Sour Cherry Biscotti
Biscotti are infinitely variable. I wanted mine to include hazelnut and orange, classic Italian flavours, and added dried sour cherries for a touch of zingy chewiness. And because, you know, they’re one of my favourite ingredients. I’ve also made a chocolate and white chocolate version … not to hold out on you, but I’ll share it another time. And yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
I’ve made biscotti many times since that trip. They’re easy to put together and don’t take too long. And a jar of them on the kitchen counter is one of the best kitchen decor items I can think of. Just make a cup of coffee, help yourself to a crunchy biscotti or two, and settle in with a good book or some knitting — or simply some daydreaming — and enjoy.
And when that jar is empty? You know just how to fill it up again.
Let’s Bake Biscotti!
Twice-baked biscotti can keep for weeks in jar. That’s the theory, anyway. Mine never last that long. This recipe is an adaptation of Giulia Scarpaleggia’s Tuscan Biscotti with Pistachios and White Chocolate from her blog, Jul’s Kitchen. NOTE: Pre-heat the oven to 450° and then turn it down to 350° when you put the biscotti in. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- 3 eggs 2 whole, 1 separated
- 200 gr cane sugar (3/4 cup)
- 5 ml pure vanilla extract (1 tsp)
- 270 gr all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 5 gr baking powder (1 tsp)
- pinch kosher or sea salt
- zest of one orange
- 70 gr hazelnuts, unpeeled (2.5 ounces)
- 75 gr dried sour cherries (2.7 ounces)
Separate one egg, setting the white aside in a small dish and adding the yolk to a mixing bowl along with two whole eggs. Add the sugar and whisk until light and fluffy and the sugar is largely dissolved. Stir in the vanilla.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix together. Then stir in the orange zest, hazelnuts and sour cherries.
Depending on whether you want classic large or smaller biscotti, divide the dough into two or three portions. With your hands and the use of a spatula, create loaves. The dough is sticky but the loaves form easily enough. If making two loaves, they should be about 12 x 2 inches. Whisk the egg white with a fork until it’s light and foamy, and brush it over the loaves.
Place into the pre-heated oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350°. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and firm but still with some give. Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray for about 10 minutes. Then put the loaves on a cutting board and slice about 3/4-inch thick. Lay the slices back on the baking tray and bake them for another 15 to 18 minutes. At this point they’ll have browned and firmed up considerably. (Sometimes, especially if I’m making smaller biscotti, I slice them about 1/2-inch thick and bake them for a bit less time.)
Let the biscotti cool completely before storing in a jar or tin.
Craving More Crunchy Coffee Companions?
Sometimes a cup of coffee (or tea; we don’t discriminate here) calls out for a little crunchy something on the side. Dipping optional. Here are three recipes that fit the bill: Chocolate, Cherry & Pistachio Macaroon Meringue Bites (me and my long recipe names!), Amaretti, the classic Italian cookies in a recipe slightly adapted from Kathleen Sloan’s Rustic Italian Cooking, and Pomegranate Coconut Merginue Bark.