Orange & Almond Biscotti

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Orange & almond biscotti – the name doesn’t sound very traumatising, right? So when I was asked to bake something yesterday for a Month’s Mind, these Italian biscuits popped straight into my mind. They seemed perfect for the occasion: subtle & simple, sophisticated (not like the gooey chocolate brownies I was also considering making), & something that people could easily snack away on with some coffee. 

I was so right, the biscotti went down a treat. Which was rather surprising really, because this was my first time ever making them. And also, I must admit, I had a bit of a breakdown during the baking process. The recipe said to cut up the cake & then put all the slices back into the oven again to crisp them up. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but all hell broke loose when I began cutting. The top required being held everywhere so as not to fall apart, while the inside was crumbling away before my very eyes. It was devastating. However, after a few moments of wailing in heartbreak, I manned up, did my best to keep each slice in one piece (& when I didn’t succeed the slices got mashed together regardless of whether it wanted to be one), & put the lot back in the oven. Success!

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The finished product was definitely worth the minor breakdown & the stress involved. They were crispy, but not too dry, & both the almond and orange flavours came through really well (not to mention the beautiful aroma all over the house), but without either being overpowering. 

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I used a recipe from Homemade by Clodagh McKenna, but I tweaked it slightly because a) I didn’t have any whole almonds in the house, only ground, & b) being the chocolate lover that I am, I rather liked the idea of the biscotti being dipped in chocolate. For the chocolate dip, I decided to add some orange extract in so as to compliment the flavours in the biscotti. One word: perfection. It was a struggle to stop myself from eating the chocolate alone, but in the end my desire for chocolatey biscotti won.

The recipe should make in & around 36 biscotti, depending on how big your slices are. Here’s my adapted version:

Ingredients 

  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 115g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 150g whole (or ground) almonds
  • the better part of a 300g chocolate bar
  • 1 tsp orange extract

Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda & salt into a large bowl & mix well. 
3. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy.
4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then tip in the orange zest & juice. Along with the almonds, stir into the flour mixture until the dough comes together. 
5. With (really) floury hands, divide the dough in half & shape each half into a log 7.5cm in diameter. Place the logs onto baking trays & bake in the oven for 30minutes or until firm to the touch. 
6. Leaving the oven on, transfer the loaves to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf crosswise on the diagonal into 1cm slices. Arrange the slices in one layer on a baking tray & return to the oven & bake for 10minutes. Turn the biscotti over & bake for a further 10minutes on the other side. 
7. Transfer the biscotti to wire racks to cool. 
8. In a microwavable bowl, break up chocolate & put into the microwave on high for 45seconds. Remove from the microwave, stir, & return for another 30seconds. After the 30seconds, remove from the microwave & stir the chocolate until completely smooth, adding the orange extract while you stir. 
9. Dip the biscotti into the chocolate until you are happy with your biscotti to chocolate ratio. 



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