Wednesday 11 December 2013

Fennel, Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

These are always a great Christmas cookie with the red cranberry and green from the pistachios.  I had actually intended to make these with dried cherries but had none on hand.  But this particular biscotti recipe can be made with various combinations of nuts and fruit.

Many of these types of biscotti recipes call for almond extract, but the first thing I think of with biscotti is fennel which has a subtle licorice flavour. And it goes really well with the pistachio and cranberry.  I crushed the seeds to bring out more of the flavour.

Unless the internet is lying to me (and believe me, it's happened before), biscotti is Italian for twice-baked. Or at least that is exactly what they are ... twice-baked cookies.  They are first baked in a loaf shape, then cooled, sliced and baked again.  I've seen a few recipes that call for olive oil instead of the melted butter which would make them a bit healthier.  What's important is that the fat is a liquid and not solid, so if using butter, it must be melted.

It took longer than I thought to shell the pistachios so be prepared if you have to do the same ... and try to remove the skin as well or you end up with more of a dull brown than the bright green.

1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachio nuts, unsalted

Cream together the melted butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla, then beat in the eggs.  Add the dry ingredients, including the fennel seed, and mix on low just to combine.  Stir in the cranberries and pistachio nuts (if using a mixer for the dough, this last bit should be done by hand).

Form two logs, about 10-12 inches long and 2 inches wide.  The dough will be sticky, so it helps to put some water on your fingers.  Bake 35-40 minutes @ 300 degrees F.  It should be cooked through but still soft.  Allow to cool completely.

Cut diagonal slices and bake until golden brown - maybe 10-12 minutes.  These freeze very well.

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