Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie

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by Domenica Marchetti
Photographs © 2015 by Antonis Achilleos

Facts: Chronicle Books, 144 pages, $18.95 (or Amazon Hardcover $14.82, Kindle $8.99)
Photos: 28
Recipes: 46

There are few cookbooks I want to cook my way through. Those that immediately come to mind are a couple of Ottolenghi’s or Huber Keller’s Souvenirs and now Domenica Marchetti’s Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie.

This book contain 37 biscotti recipes plus six “beyond biscotti” recipes including Nutella Sandwich Cookies. The Savory Side section immediately peaked my interest… more specifically a Crispy Pancetta recipe and Cornmeal Rosemary and Parmigiano. With chefs putting bacon on and in everything, the inclusion of pancetta seems a natural.

After a discussion of equipment, ingredients and techniques, classic biscotti recipes I remember from my childhood are introduced: Anise, Almond and Vin Santo. But also included under classic is Fig! YUM – the fig biscotti include toasted hazelnuts and lemon zest to brighten them. When you look at the recipe below, you’ll note that they aren’t “classic” at all.

Marchetti does a wonderfully creative job in Biscotti with fruit such as Golden Cornmeal with Sultanas (golden raisins) and the mighty fig pops up again, but this time with fennel and almonds for Fig and Fennel Biscotti.

Take a look inside the book on Amazon and check out the entire chocolate section, plus Fantasy Recipes like Green Tea with White Chocolate Glaze. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this smart lady includes weight measurements in her recipes – a must for baking.

 

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Fig Biscotti

Photography © by Antonis Achilleos

 

These extra-large slices are loaded with warm, toasty hazelnuts and chunks of sweet fig. Strictly speaking, these aren’t true biscotti, as they are baked only once. This keeps them chewy-soft and prevents the dried fruit from toughening. Look for Calimyrna figs, which are lighter in color than black Mission figs. Dried Calimyrnas also tend to be softer and plumper, and they have a sweet, caramel-like flavor.

Makes 18 to 20 large biscotti

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups/255 g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup/100 g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup/140 g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
Scant 1 cup/140 g dried calimyrna figs, quartered
Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method:
1. Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly coat an 11-by-17-in/28-by-43-cm rimmed baking sheet with the vegetable oil.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the hazelnuts, figs, and lemon zest and mix on low speed to combine and break up some of the nuts. Add the eggs, honey, and olive oil and mix on medium speed until a soft, sticky dough has formed.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a disk. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll the dough into a rough oval. Place it lengthwise in the middle of the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 3 1/2 in/9 cm wide and 14 in/35 cm long. Press down on the log to flatten it out a bit and make the top even.

4. Bake the log for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is lightly browned and just set−it should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under the log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the log cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer it to the rack and let it cool to room temperature.

5. Transfer the cooled log to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut it on the diagonal into 3/8-in/1-cm-thick slices. These are best enjoyed on the day they are made, though they will keep in an airtight container stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

WHAT TO DRINK: A glass of port or cider, hot or cold.

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