Sunday, 23 August 2015

almond & cardamom biscotti with a cup of teenage dreaming

I first tried biscotti as a teenager and totally fell in love. As I dipped the crunchy biscuit into one of my first cappuccinos I felt very grown up and elegant, like one of those glamorous actresses in a 1950s film, holidaying on the Italian riviera. I also loved the dull snap as I broke a biscotti in half. I imagined wearing a large brimmed sunhat and sunglasses to complete my floral summer dress look while I dined al fresco in the piazza. And then, after my two course lunch (main and dessert - as I’d rather pick dessert over starter any day) I would casually drive off into the sunset in my pink Cadillac, scarf firmly tied to my head, wind in my ponytail. To a Doris Day soundtrack (because I love Doris Day, okay). Teenage dreams make me wistful. Life was generally simple and responsibility meant doing my homework on time. Sigh. 

I’m so looking forward to visiting Italy as I cannot wait to sample the food! I was watching a programme yesterday on the BBC on Sicily and it's gastronomic history and there didn't seem to be a single shot cast without beauty, basking in Mediterranean sunlight. The frescoes, streets, and ancient ruins. The sympathetic renovations that still carry Italy’s Arab history. In the kitchen the hosts cook simple meals, put together with love by parents whose children were leaving or returning, just as most meals made by parents are full of love. 

These twice baked hard and crunchy biscuits remind me a little bit of the cake rusk biscuits that we had growing up, dipped in cups of strong tea. Besides music, food really does unite cultures and communities. Every mouthful of deliciousness fills the heart with happiness. And these biscotti will make you happy. Dip them in black coffee for a truly exquisite taste - milky coffee or tea works as well but black coffee somehow enhances their flavour. 

Ingredients (makes about 16)
120g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
100g self raising flour
100g almonds
2 medium free range eggs
20 ml oil
25g granulated sugar
100g brown sugar
4 cardamoms seeds crushed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190c or 180c (fan) /gas mark 5 

Place almonds on a lined tray and toast for 2-3 minutes and cool.

Whisk eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla extract together and carefully incorporate the flour and cardamom until it forms a soft sticky dough.

Add the toasted almonds and turn out onto a heavily floured surface and working quickly, form into two logs and place onto a lined baking sheet, ensuring that they are about 3 inches apart.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until light golden

Cool completely and then slice at angle about 1 cm thick and lay flat on a tray.

Bake again for about 12-15 minutes at the same temperature, turning over halfway to ensure even browning.

Cool completely and enjoy!  

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