Pistachio and orange blossom chocolate studded biscotti

A variation of this recipe was given to me by a friend’s Mum after I pestered her relentlessly for it. I love biscotti – there’s nothing I’d rather dunk in my coffee or, when no dunking opportunity arises, run the risk of breaking my teeth on. This recipe uses a little orange blossom water, but not to worry if you can’t get hold of any, it still tastes great without it.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
200g caster sugar
1/4 tsp orange blossom water
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g roughly chopped dark chocolate
50g whole almonds (skins on or off)
50g pistachios ( shelled and unsalted)
Finely grated rind of 2 oranges
1 dessertspoon milk and 1 tbsp sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat an oven to 180C/350F/gas 4
  2. Toast the nuts for about 8 minutes, until golden, and roughly chop, leaving some whole. Then leave to cool.
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and orange blossom water until pale and mousse-like, then fold in the rest of the ingredients (with the exception of the dessertspoon of milk and 1 tbsp sugar) and mix well.  With floured hands, on a lightly dusted or parchment lined baking tray, shape the dough into 2 flattened logs.
  4. Brush the logs with milk and sprinkle with a little sugar, then bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until just set and golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Then, with a serrated/bread knife, cut the logs at an angle, about 1-2cm thick.
  6. Place these slices flat on the tray and place in the oven.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until pale golden and dry.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

    These keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container

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    Lavender, lemon zest and vanilla shortbread

    Last week I went to Columbia Road flower market and bought this lavender from one of the stalls, which had it all stacked up in an electric blue mound. This shortbread is quite unique tasting as it’s very floral and delicate. Fresh lavender has a very strong scent, so don’t be tempted to add more than the recipe states, or else you run the risk of producing something that tastes more like soap than a biscuit.

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    Ingredients:
    100g butter, room temp
    50g icing sugar
    1 tsp fresh lavender
    finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    0.5 tsp vanilla extract
    Pinch of salt
    100g plain flour
    50g corn flour

    Method:

    1.  Cream together the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and lavender and mix again.
    2. Finally, add the two types of flour, the salt and mix again.
    3. Once combined, bring the dough together into a ball and place on a dusted board to shape into a cylinder.
    4. I find my shortbread a bit crumbly at this point, so it is often easier to form a rough cylinder, place the dough on a strip of clingfilm, and then shape it further as you tightly wrap the dough in the clingfilm.
    5. At this point you want to preheat the over to 160C/150C fan, and place the dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes, till it firms up.
    6. Remove the dough from the fridge and slice it into rounds of about half-centimetre thickness. Place the shortbread rounds on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until a light golden colour forms at the edges (you can lift one up to check it’s base is not doughy).
    7. Transfer to a wire rack, to allow them to cool and crisp-up.

    Makes about 15, 4cm diameter shortbreads

    Almond biscuits

    These biscuits are an adaptation of my favourite sweet shortcrust pastry recipe. They are brilliant for dessert when cut into rectangles and served with blackberry jam, folded into crème fraîche, as a dip.If you don’t have any vanilla icing sugar, I recommend adding half a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the first step.
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    Ingredients
    175g butter
    65g icing sugar
    2 egg yolks
    225g plain flour
    125g slivered almonds
    dusting of vanilla icing sugar


    Method
    1. Put the butter, sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and blend together quickly.
    2. Add the flour and blend again.
    3. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour. At this point pre-heat the oven to 356F/180C/FAN 150C.
    4. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Once flat, roughly create a single layer of slivered almonds on the surface and continue to roll till the dough is about the thickness of a £1 coin (3-4mm).
    5. Cut out shapes using a cutter and place on a metal tray lined with baking parchment.
    6. Place in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, but check on them after 10 minutes. They should end up being a light golden colour.
    7. Carefully place the biscuits on a cooling rack.
    8. Once cooled, dust the biscuits with vanilla icing sugar.
    makes about 30 little discs