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Mixed Nuts & Chocolate Biscotti

December 23, 2016

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When I bought Jamie Oliver’s new book of Christmas cooking a couple of weeks ago, one of the recipes I thought I must try were his cantuccini, with the idea that I could package some up as little gifts. I bought the ingredients at the beginning of the week but life and Christmas shopping got in the way of actually doing anything with them. Then the lovely Mimi put a cantuccini recipe up on her blog a couple of days ago, which reminded me of my intention. So, I got baking yesterday.

Now, I’ve made cantuccini/biscotti before – click here – if not for a while, so wasn’t a complete novice. But the recipe just didn’t work. I think there was too much flour and they were heavy and floury to taste. I threw them away. I don’t like to ‘fail’ though. Even though there’s lots of Christmas cooking to do I couldn’t get those disaster biscotti off my mind. So I turned to Gino d’Acampo. His panettone turned out pretty well for me last year (click here). I know people who get a bit sniffy about Gino; don’t think he’s the real thing, but his recipes are straightforward and they work. They are even easy and his biscotti recipe was more or less an all-in-one preparation – plus of course a necessary second baking. I decided to combine the two recipes by sticking to Jamie’s almonds, hazelnuts and chocolate. But when I found I didn’t have enough hazelnuts and almonds left, I threw in some pistachios too. I also found I needed more cooking time than Gino suggests. But in the end, the recipe worked well and finally I’m happy – I have some biscotti for Christmas!

Mixed Nuts & Chocolate Biscotti

  • 100g mixed skinned almonds, hazelnuts & pistachios
  • 50g dark chocolate (at least 70%), roughly chopped
  • 280g strong white flour, type ’00’
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 unwaxed orange
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (or lemon! see below)
  • icing sugar for dusting

Toast the nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until lightly browned.

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Remove from the pan and roughly chop. Chop the chocolate. Set aside.

Now make the dough. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sugar, baking powder, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest. Also add the prepared nuts and chocolate. Add the orange/lemon liqueur. I didn’t have any orange liqueur. It’s been a long time since I’ve kept any kind of liqueur in the house. I was considering whether brandy would be a bit overpowering when I remembered the bottle of limoncello lurking in my fridge door. Homemade limoncello, made by Jonathan’s friend Simon. Feeling pretty sure my son wouldn’t mind my raiding his limoncello supply, I took it from the fridge and was measuring it into the bowl when said son let himself into the house and was suddenly before me. ‘You don’t mind if I have some of your limoncello?’ I said. In the moment of unexpected confusion I forgot to take a photo of how pretty all the ingredients looked laid out in the bowl, and instead started mixing.

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Oh well. That’s not a step I could undo. Once it’s all combined, divide the dough into two (yes I did actually use scales to get this exact. The things I do for the blog!).

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Dust a surface with icing sugar. Many people use flour, but Gino uses sugar and I went with that. Well it’s Christmas; of course you dust treats with sugar. Carefully roll each ball of dough into a sausage shape and flatten slightly. It’s a very sticky dough but you can just about manage to roll it.

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You’ll need two baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. Lay a ‘sausage’ of dough on each one. Bake in a 180C/Fan 160/Gas 4 oven. Now Gino said for 20 minutes but I left mine for 30 minutes to achieve a ‘lightly browned’ colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Use a serrated bread knife and cut into ‘biscotti’ slices on a slight diagonal. They should be just over 1cm thick. While you’re doing this, lower the oven to 150C/Fan 130/Gas 2.

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Now arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet, with a new lining of greaseproof paper.

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Return them to the cooler oven. Now, this next stage has variations of how long they stay in the oven. Gino only leaves them in for 5 minutes; Jamie for 8-10. However, my ‘original’ biscotti recipe on the blog, an Ottolenghi one, leaves them in for 40 minutes. I kept checking and in the end, that’s how long I left them. Plus, I also followed Jamie’s suggestion of leaving them in the oven when you turn it off to dry right out while the oven cools. But then I had to try one too!

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As Jamie says he likes, I ate one slightly warm, still a bit chewy, with an espresso. Delicious! However, I’m looking forward to the crunchy ones once they’ve properly cooled, which will keep nicely in an airtight jar for up to a couple of weeks and provide a nice treat with coffee over the Christmas holiday period. And, of course, a few can go into a smaller jar, decorated with Christmas ribbon, to make a nice gift.

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                ***** HAPPY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!! *****

4 Comments
  1. Looks yum! They are crunchy now?

  2. Lovely post!

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