Friday, 17 December 2010

Biscotti with Chocolate, Nuts and Cranberries

I've only made biscotti once before; the recipe was such a disaster that it put me off trying again, as I didn't know how to judge a good recipe. Now that I've been blogging a while, I know there are bloggers I can trust; if they use a particular recipe and get good results, then I can be fairly confident the recipe will work as well for me. So when Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial posted her biscotti recipe recently, I knew I had to try it! Before I had a chance to get round to it, Celia posted about another batch of biscotti, with festive flavours, which made me even more determined to get round to making them. I've gambled that we are now close enough to Christmas for the biscotti to keep well until then!

Fortunately Celia usually gives metric weights as well as cup measurements for her recipes, and often shows stages of a recipe in great detail - all very helpful to a novice. I followed her recipe exactly, except that as I was gathering the dough into a ball it still seemed very wet, so I sprinkled an extra handful of flour over it - about a tablespoon more.

I used a 80g of coarsely chopped roasted pistachios and 60g of more finely chopped toasted hazelnuts to make up the 140g of nuts, and for the extra additions I used 100g 72% plain chocolate and 80g dried sweetened cranberries. Instead of demerara sugar I used Barbados Amber Sugar, an unrefined cane sugar which has similar sized crystals, but is a little lighter in colour. For the second bake, I only baked the slices for 20 minutes - this was enough to turn them golden brown.

The recipe worked very well, and I was really pleased with the outcome in terms of shape, flavour and texture - the biscotti were well shaped and evenly baked, and the Barbados Amber Sugar made a crunchy topping to the slices. The inclusions gave a good flavour, with the right balance of crunchy nuts to softer fruit and chocolate.

I was less pleased with the way the inclusions looked - the dried cranberries were really bright red in the packet but darkened during baking, and pistachios never look as green as you hope for! This meant that I didn't get the hoped for festive effect of red and green together. The chocolate also smeared in places when the logs were sliced which looked a bit messy - not sure how to overcome this except leave the logs to cool for longer. Would this be OK, or would the logs then be difficult to slice, I wonder?

Overall though, I think the recipe is great - no need to look any further for variations. Thank you, Celia! I don't think I'll need more for this Christmas, but I'll hopefully make a better choice of ingredients next time, so that they look as good as they taste.

PS - Celia forgot to mention the cook's perks - the ends of the logs, which wouldn't lie flat for the second baking. That's how I know how good they taste! ;)


Choclette said...

Hey Suelle, I was just about to go and check Celia's recipe for this out as I'm about to embark on making biscotti when I saw yours jump out at me from by FSS feed - strange. Yours look good to me - I can certainly see the green loud and clear.

Joanna said...

The biscotti recipes seem to fall into two categories, those with butter and those without. I haven't made any yet either, still studying 'the form'. My heart says make biscuits with butter in, otherwise they are rusks in fancy clothes....I didn't like rusks when I was a baby and I'm not that keen now, but I suspect I am alone..

Suelle said...

Nice coincidence, Choclette - hope your baking is successful.

Joanna - I hadn't even realised there was a 'with butter' version. They'll definitely need dunking, unless they soften up a lot in the next week; very rusk-like at the moment!

Chele said...

Can't beat a good biscotti recipe at this time of year ;0)
Looks great!

Celia said...

Wow, thanks Suelle! I'm very chuffed that you liked the recipe! I'm with Choc, I can see pretty green in your biscotti, but like yours the cranberries in mine are a dull red on baking. If you don't want the chocolate to smear as much, try using bake-stable chocolate (we can buy Callebaut baking sticks here). The biscotti do soften slightly on storing, and they should be fine stored for up to a couple of weeks, or frozen. I adore mine rocky hard though, so the rusk like quality is always a good thing for me. :)

PS. I've baked the logs, and then had to put something else in the oven, so haven't come back to slice and re-bake for a couple of hours and the biscotti were fine. A little harder to slice perhaps, but otherwise ok. A friend also told me you can freeze the once baked logs and take them out and slice and re-bake at a later date, although I haven't tried doing that. Thanks again for trying the recipe! :)

Suelle said...

Celia - very useful comments, thanks. I've never though of buying special chocolate for baking as it would have to be mail order, and the shipping costs often make things too expensive. I'll have to look into it properly.