I promised Hubby today that after the last manic couple of months I would actually take it easy today, the Children are all back at school/college, Hubby was at a meeting, house is spotless, so perfect to put my feet up for a bit and relax.
Well you'd think so wouldn't you, after a few minutes of chilling with a coffee in bed I got restless and felt guilty that Hubby was at work and I was just lazing around, so I got up and cleaned the cooker, put a load of washing on and then baked a batch of gorgeous chocolate and almond biscotti's.
"Biscotti" is the plural form of biscotto. The word 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.
Biscotti, more correctly known as biscotti di Prato, are twice-baked biscuits originating in the Italian city of Prato. The biscuits are oblong-shaped almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven.
They were far easier to make than I expected, the smell of warm chocolate dough wafting round the house soon relaxed me and I spent a most enjoyable morning in my kitchen listening to some fantastic opera and just enjoying being at home alone.
So I may not of actually put my feet up, but I still had a relaxing morning and now I am sitting in my lounge, sun streaming through the windows, typing up this blog post, I'd call that pretty relaxed, wouldn't you!
These biscottis make a great home-made gift, and are delicious served with a sweet dessert wine (traditionally vin santo) or an espresso at the end of a meal.
200g shelled unblanched hazelnuts (I didn't have any, thats why I used almonds)
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
300g golden caster sugar
200g plain chocolate chips
3 large free-range eggs, plus 2 large free-range egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Line 4 large baking trays with sheets of baking paper.
Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes and leave to cool.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a good pinch of salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar, chocolate chips and toasted hazelnuts.
Beat the eggs, yolks and vanilla together, add to the dry ingredients, by making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir in the egg mixture until it comes together into a soft dough. If it is slightly sticky, knead in a little more flour, but don’t let it become stiff and dry. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth.
Divide the dough into 3 and roll each piece into a long sausage, about 4-5cm wide. Lay on 2 of the baking sheets (2 on 1 sheet, well spaced apart, and 1 on the other) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked. A skewer inserted into the centre should come away clean. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 150°C/fan130°C/gas 2. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut each log slightly on the diagonal into approximately 1.5cm thick slices. Place the biscotti, side by side, cut faces down, on the baking sheets and bake for another 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until the biscotti feel slightly firm and dry when pressed. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
The biscotti will become harder as they go cold. Store in an airtight tin for up to 3 weeks.