Yes, it’s really me. I’ve been ignoring this space due to those twin drains on my time, work and school, but I’m still kicking. Unfortunately, my “foodie life” has been suffering somewhat. Meals over the last couple weeks have tended toward quick and easy, and baking has been thin on the ground. Thankfully, my end-of-term project was due yesterday, so hopefully, the coming weeks will offer a little more blogging fodder.
Re-emerging from my self-imposed hibernation, what do I find? It’s Christmas! Well, nearly. We’ve had lots of snow here in London (a fact which I’d have celebrated, if only it hadn’t royally screwed up all of my plans for last week), the blogs are alive with holiday style guides (check out mine here) and I have a gift list a mile long to worry about. But really – who can worry about things like shopping when there’s baking to be done?
Not me. If I’ve been lacking inspiration since the weather turned cold last month, it’s the season to get it back. I can rarely resist a holiday goodie and happily dive right into crumbly cookies and sticky gingerbread, homemade candy and sticky toffee puddings. Not forgetting the savoury stuff; I’m roasting veggies and pureéing soups like crazy these days. Who ever said Christmas was no fun for vegetarians?
Today’s recipe is one of those that just shout Christmas to me, though to be honest this is the first time I’ve ever made it. It actually comes from a friend of mine, and I enjoyed it nearly every Christmastime of my teenage years. I’ve spoken about my friend Larissa’s annual Christmas party before, but I didn’t go into too much detail on the spread. The dessert table was always the pinnacle of the evening, laden with chocolate peppermint bark, shortbread and these biscotti. (One year, there was even a multi-layer chocolate ice cream bombe, but I think that’s a little beyond my current level of inspiration.)
Turns out, the biscotti recipe comes from Canadian Living, a slightly-dull-yet-reliable recipe source from back home. Since I’m staying in the UK this holiday, the idea of baking a classic “Canadian” recipe appealed to my nostalgic nature. Loaded with whole almonds, orange zest and cinnamon, these biscuits will surely appeal to you, too. Wrapped up prettily they make a great gift but are just as lovely dunked into a mug of tea. Which is what I’m off to do now, actually.
adapted from Canadian Living
- 1 3/4 cups plain flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup good-quality whole blanched almonds
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest (roughly that of 1 medium orange, or 2 clementines
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the whole almonds. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, butter and extracts until smooth and uniform. Stir in the orange zest.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix well with a spatula, until the mixture comes together into a smooth dough. You may have to add a handful more flour, but test first- the dough isn’t as sticky as it looks.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form the into a lightly-floured ball. Divide into two equal sections, then roll one into a 12″ (or as long as your baking sheet will allow) “log” and transfer to the baking sheet. Gently flatten and shape the log so it’s smooth and even, then repeat with the other piece of dough.
5. Lightly brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg white, then bake for 20 minutes, at which point loaves should be lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cutting board. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the loaves into 2cm wide biscotti (you can slice straight across or on an angle; the latter will make a slightly longer, but more delicate to cut, biscotti).
6. Return the biscotti to the baking sheet and arrange them facing up, with room in between each. Bake for a further 20 minutes, until completely dry and golden. Biscotti will keep for two weeks in an airtight container.