Pistachio, Lemon & Rosemary Biscotti make the ideal last minute present. Crisp slices of nutty bread, with the surprising kick of rosemary. Keep a loaf of cooked dough in the freezer for emergencies, and never be caught without a gift again.
Total Time Investment: 1 hour 15 mins, plus Overnight
Many years ago, my mum made The Princess an advent calendar, full of little patchwork pockets that need to be stuffed with small bits and pieces. I suggested that maybe this year The Princess was too old for the calendar, in the vain hope I would not have to spend ages combing the shops for little trinkets. My proposal was met with howls of derision, and the calendar now duly hangs in the back room as a vivid reminder that Christmas is well on its way.
I try very hard not to buy into the commercialisation that surrounds Christmas, and many of my gifts are often handmade. Spice mixes, cookies, and mini Christmas cakes have all featured on my gift list over the years. No matter how organised I think I am, I invariably overlook at least one person, which is why biscotti is possibly my favourite Christmas gift. Each year, at the start of December, I bake a few loaves of this Pistachio, Lemon and Rosemary Biscotti, and my gluten free Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti, and stash them in the freezer for emergency presents.
Biscotti are twice baked biscuits (or cookies if you prefer), originating from Italy. The biscuit dough is initially baked into a loaf, and allowed to cool completely. The loaf is then cut into slices, and rebaked at a lower temperature. It is this second baking that makes the biscotti hard and crunchy, as the slices dry out in the heat of the oven. The biscotti are done when the the slices are crisp and lightly browned.
Good biscotti should be made over a couple of days, if the Italian Nonna who made the best almond biscotti I have ever eaten is to be believed. On the first day the loaf is baked, then tightly wrapped in foil whilst still hot and allowed to sit overnight. Wrapping the loaf whilst hot prevents the outside from drying out, and stops it crumbling when sliced. The loaf is cut into wafer thin slices on the second day, then baked at a lower temperature until the biscotti are crunchy.
This two-step process is the real reason that biscotti make the ideal emergency gift. Once the cooked loaf is wrapped in foil and allowed to cool, it can be frozen for up to three months. Defrost the loaf at room temperature, then slice and bake as detailed in the recipe below.
Biscotti will keep for at least two to three weeks if stored in an airtight container. For gift giving, I either package them in a nice tin or wrap the biscuits in cellophane.
This recipe makes a lot of biscotti so that the few you munch on whilst wrapping the presents won’t be missed. I won’t tell if you don’t.
Pistachio, Lemon & Rosemary Biscotti Tips & Tricks
- If you are in a hurry, the biscotti can be made in one day. Ensure the cooked loaf is completely cool before slicing.
- Freeze loaves of cooked biscotti dough for up to three months. Allow to defrost completely at room temperature.
- For best results, use a serrated knife for slicing the loaf.
- Store in an airtight container to prevent the crisp slices softening.
- If you don’t have golden caster sugar, use normal caster sugar instead. Your biscotti may be slightly sweeter as a result.
- Plain wheat flour can be used in place of the spelt flour.
- Replace the pistachios with almonds.
- Both the rosemary and fresh lemon zest can be omitted if desired, although the resulting biscotti will be quite plain in flavour.
Looking for more last minute gifts? Check out 21 Homemade Spices Mixes: The Perfect DIY Gift.
Pistachio, Lemon & Rosemary Biscotti
- 4 egg whites
- 75 g (1/3 cup) golden castor sugar
- 110 g (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) white spelt flour, sifted
- 3/4 - 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- Zest of one lemon
- 125 g (1 cup) shelled pistachios
Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced).
Grease a 8.5cm x 19cm loaf pan and line with baking paper.
In a small bowl, mix the rosemary and lemon zest into the spelt flour. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Slowly add the sugar, beating between each addition, until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue becomes stiff and glossy.
Sprinkle one third of the flour mixture and one third of the nuts over the egg whites and begin to gently incorporate with a spatula.
As egg white is exposed, slowly sprinkle the remainder of the flour and nuts into the bowl. Continue to gently stir until all the flour is incorporated.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and gently smooth into the corners.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Wrap the baking paper over the top of the log and then wrap in foil. Allow to cool completely. The log can be frozen at this stage.
Preheat the oven to 150C (130C fan forced)
Line a baking tray.
With a sharp serrated knife or an electric knife, slice the cooked loaf into 3mm slices.
Place the slices on the lined tray and bake for approximately 12 - 15 minutes, or until the slices are dry and crisp.
Remove the slices from the tray and cool completely on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.
Rosemary is not traditional in this recipe, however it compliments the pistachio and lemon flavours, which is why I have included it. If you don't like a strong rosemary flavour then use the smaller amount specified in the recipe.
Ensure that you bake the slices for long enough so that they dry out or you will end up with soggy biscotti.
If your oven runs hot then bake at a lower temperature for longer.
Store in an airtight container for two to three weeks.
* This post was originally published on 2nd December 2013