In honour of National Chocolate Week which starts tomorrow (10th-16th October) I bring you a variation on a well-known twice-baked Italian cake which I have been itching to make for quite a while. Biscotti, or biscotti di Prato which in literal terms means biscuits of Prato, as a result of the method by which they are cooked are very dry and crunchy which makes them perfect for either a long and arduous journey such as a Crusade or, more commonly, with coffee. Generally they are made with almonds and the only reason that I have deviated from the classic recipe is the imminent arrival of the aforementioned celebration. However, fear not, as I promise with hand on heart, as well as fingers forcibly separated, to deliver the classic version in the not too distant future.
As for variations on a theme of this recipe, one may add pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, chocolate chips or coffee to the uncooked dough – each will give it a rather individual flavour and texture, though I have opted for the good ol’ plain biscotti.
I realise this blurb is rather short but I’ve spent literally all day in the kitchen cooking all manner of culinary delights and really must crack on with my pot of Welsh cawl. Enjoy the biscotti, they are truly delicious.
• 180g plain flour
• 40g cocoa powder
• 1 heaped tsp baking powder
• 120g golden caster sugar
• 2 eggs
• A pinch of salt
• Optional extras, as mentioned above
1. Heat the oven to 160C and line a large baking tin with greaseproof paper. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt thoroughly in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs lightly in a separate bowl, before adding the sugar and mixing until uniform. Stir the wet mixture into the dry and beat until a soft dough has been formed. Gently knead the dough on a heavily floured surface for a minute or so.
2. Form the soft dough into a long and fairly thin log, bake this in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until it has a firm crust.
3. Cut the crust into slices 1-1.5 cm thick. Return the slices to the oven dish and bake them for a further 15-20 minutes, this dries them out and gives them a crunchy quality. Let them cool before devouring.
Cost: Without adding any optional extras these delicious little twice-cooked cakes should cost no more than around 80p to produce. I was stunned when I realised biscotti in Costa or Starbucks cost in excess of £1 each!