I’m not going to begin this post as so many others do, by banging on about how these biscotti are the BEST. They’re not. Those who’ve come before me in the great biscotti making game probably have made the BEST biscotti that you’re ever likely to taste. Of course, they can’t all be the BEST, but let’s not split hairs about how many people can actually claim to have the BEST (I’ll stop saying this soon, I promise) biscotti. I’m not jealous of their crunchy, sweet temptations and promises of espresso compatibility. Oh no, I’m comfortable with this recipe, because this biscotti recipe is the MOST AMAZING, DELICIOUS, MOUTH WATERING, HEAVENLY MORSEL OF DIVINE BISCUITY GOODNESS you’re ever likely to make, let alone eat. Yep, I present to you…the GREATEST biscotti recipe ever. Times x 10.
These perfect little crescent shaped delights are a true Italian staple, and just right for those of us who prefer their biscuits on the crunchier side. However, rest assured, those of you who have a penchant for the softer side of life, well, you may enjoy a little walk on the wild side, say a stroll down to Crunchy Town…just this once? I personally guarantee no chipping of a single tooth because these bikkies are just right, not too heavy, not to…well, you get the picture. And, if you really do have a preference for a softer chew, don’t do as I say but do as I did and leave them out on the counter for too long while you spend an hour photographing them and then go for a long walk and forget to put them in an airtight jar. You’re welcome.
Although quintessentially Italian, these Mediterranean inspired biscotti have a distinctly Sicilian twist. By combining dried figs, orange zest and pistachios, all found in abundance throughout the island of Sicily, with the heady aroma of anise seed, a spice dating back to Ancient Egypt, these decadent biscuits carry flavours that remind us that Sicily is, in parts, closer to North Africa than it is to mainland Italy.
If you’ve never made biscotti from scratch, rest assured, the beautiful results far outweigh the time and effort, which is super simple anyway. And, I’ve saved the best until last because once you’ve mastered this basic biscotti recipe you can substitute just about any combination of flavours your creative little mind can concoct; if you don’t have a taste for anise seed, simply omit it from the mix, not too keen on figs? Try dried apricots instead. The biggest decision you’ll face will be whether to devour your biscotti elegantly with an espresso, as I do, or dunk them in your tea like a big kid, as Ciro prefers. There’s no judgement from us, they’re your biscotti, go crazy.
Buon divertimento! (Have fun!)
- ½ cup shelled pistachios – if you can, shell the pistachios yourself rather than buying them already shelled – they will be fresher
- 120g (approx. 4 oz.) dried Smyrna figs, cut into ¼ inch pieces. If you can’t find the softer dried figs, simply soak your dried figs in a little warm water for 5 minutes
- 1 tsp. anise seeds
- ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup raw sugar
- 2 ¼ cup plain all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. grated orange zest
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. good quality sea salt
Preheat oven to 170 C (350F).
Combine the butter and sugar until smooth. I used a wooden spoon because I’m old fashioned (I’m cheap) and I don’t have fancy kitchen gadgets, however you can use a mixer for approximately 2 minutes, and forgo the workout.
Once smooth, add the eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest, and beat until creamy and light. Again, I did this easily by hand, however, it is much easier to use your kitchen mixer if you have one.
Combine your remaining dry ingredients together, then add to the butter mixture, followed by the pistachios and figs. Combine gently until well mixed then divide your dough in two.
On a baking paper lined oven tray, form two 22cmx8cm (9”x3”) logs, leaving a gap between for spreading, and bake until lightly browned (approx. 20-25 minutes).
Remove from the oven and let them cool for at least ten minutes before cutting. Do not cut while too hot, your log will crumble, however, don’t allow logs to cool completely either as they’ll be too difficult to cut, ten minutes is usually enough. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, slowly and gently cut logs into 1.5cm (1/2”) thick pieces. Arrange the biscotti on their sides and return to the oven and bake again until golden, about 8-10 minutes. Once golden, turn biscotti over and return to oven for another 8-10 minutes, or until desired crunchiness.
Cool on wire racks to allow air flow for maximum crispness and then transfer to an airtight container.