FRUIT AND NUT BISCOTTI – TUSCAN STYLE
We think we know all there is to know about baking biscotti and along comes a chef (James Martin, my favorite UK chef in this case) who blows our theories out the window. There are as many different recipes for biscotti, also known as contucci, as there are Italian wines. And this is where we diverge from the norm.
Tuscan style biscotti – contucci, is best when dunked in — wait for it–wine! Instead of dipping our biscotti into a large glass of cappuccino, the dried fruit and nuts harvested in Tuscany and used in our fruit and nut biscotti are a natural blend with Tuscan wines. Vin Santo, an amber-colored sweet wine is recommended, but we paired ours with an Italian Grande Alberone ($8.99 at Aldi), a red wine that reflects the flavors of cherries, blackberries and raisins.
Well, a 5-second dip into the wine and our fruit and nut biscotti was elevated to a taste blessed by the wine gods. The Alberone slipped past the apricots, cranberries, cherries and nuts and arrived in our mouths with such a burst of flavor that our eyes, and tummies, did a biscotti-wine dance. The fruit and nut biscotti, two logs chock full of all kinds of sweetness, and the bottle of wine, were gone within a day!
There is a word of caution with this recipe – the dough is VERY wet. Once you get to the mixing part, wet your hands before attacking the dough.
Let me know how your biscotti turn out – and if you prefer Vin Santo, Tuscan reds or cappuccino. It’s all good!
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a baking tray with parchment. Create a “tent” in the middle, separating the two sides of the parchment. This prevents the biscotti logs from touching.
250 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
250 grams fine sugar (in the grocery, in a brown paper bag. If you can’t find fine sugar, whirl
the sugar in a blender or food processor for a few seconds.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs, whisked and room temperature
50 grams dried apricots, chopped
50 grams dried cranberries, chopped
50 grams dried cherries, chopped
75 grams shelled pistachios
50 grams almond slices, no skin, crunched
50 grams shelled hazelnuts – or any other nut you have available in your pantry
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Utensils and Tools:
Bowls for mixing and measuring
Flour. Sugar. Baking Powder.
Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix with the fork until blended.
Whisk the eggs and set aside.
Apricots. Cranberries. Cherries. Pistachios. Almonds. Other Nuts.
Combine them in a separate bowl, making sure they are in small pieces.
Lemon Zest and Juice.
Add to fruit bowl and mix.
Dry Ingredients. Fruit and Nuts. Eggs.
Add the fruit to the dry ingredients. Add the eggs. Wet your hands slightly and start mixing the dough. The dough will stick to your fingers. Wet slightly again so you can start to form two logs.
Place one of the logs on the parchment, manipulating it so that it’s long and narrow. Do the same with the other log.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the baking tray around and bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and put the parchment with the logs onto a cooling rack for 20 minutes.
REDUCE THE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 25O F.
After 20 minutes, take one log and put it on a cutting board.
Use a serrated knife and carefully slice the logs into ¾” pieces. Gently work the knife back and forth for a clean cut.
Do the same for the second log.
Remove the used parchment from the baking tray and put a fresh piece onto the tray.
Lay the biscotti slices, cut side up, on the tray and bake for about 8 minutes.
Turn the slices over and bake again, maybe ten minutes. Don’t overbake.
The biscotti will not become dark brown like other biscotti, but will remain pale in the center, crunchy around the edges.
Cool on the baking tray and then store in an airtight container.
Pour a glass of wine, dunk and do your biscotti-wine dance!
A true pairing – Tuscan wine and fruit and nut biscotti!