Portion/Yield:Makes about 50 biscuits
I cannot believe it’s already November, where has the year gone? I have to start making plans for Christmas. The sheer thought of the different events surrounding the Christmas period is a real headache for some. If you need something that will cheer you up and encourage you to ‘catch’ the festive cheer, then this is the perfect biscuit recipe to make and bake, and then enjoy with a cup of tea while you sort out your presents list and Christmas menus.
This recipe is a variation on the traditional cantuccini, also known as cantucci or biscotti (meaning twice-baked or twice-cooked). Traditionally, the recipe contains almonds and lemons, but I have adapted it to use cranberries, chestnuts and orange zest instead to reflect the season.
These biscuits are as pretty as a picture and very tasty indeed. I love the sour tang when you bite into a cranberry; it brings a perfect balance to the sweet crisp biscuit. They also make pretty and perfect gift bags. I will definitely bake them for Christmas Eve to enjoy with a glass of mulled wine or two. Mmmm, finally I can say I’m looking forward to Christmas!
Ingredients & Method
- 4 medium eggs, plus 1 egg for glazing
- 300g caster sugar
- 500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- a pinch of table salt
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 150g (prepared weight) roasted, shelled chestnuts, roughly chopped (see Cook’s Note)
- 130g fresh whole cranberries
- icing sugar, for dusting
Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Place the 4 eggs and the caster sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, attach the whisk attachment and whisk together for about 5–6 minutes on full speed until the mixture is light, fluffy and aerated. Remove the whisk and attach the paddle attachment instead.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt over the whisked egg mixture, then add the orange zest, chestnuts and cranberries and mix together on a low speed until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer, then cover and leave the dough to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up a little (the dough will be very soft and sticky).
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
Turn the chilled dough out onto a floured work surface, then divide it in half and roll each portion into a sausage or log shape, each about 28cm long and 5cm diameter. Place the 2 logs onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a 10cm gap between them to allow them to cook evenly and not get stuck together during baking.
Whisk the remaining egg, then use a pastry brush to brush the egg glaze all over the logs. Bake the biscuit logs in the oven for 30–35 minutes. Test to see if they are ready by inserting a metal skewer into the centre – if the skewer comes out clean then they’re cooked; if not, return to the oven and bake for a few more minutes or until cooked.
Remove from the oven, transfer the biscuit logs to a wire rack and leave to cool for 30 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. Cut the biscuit logs into 1cm-thick slices and place the slices on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, turning them over once about halfway through, until the biscotti are dry but are not too dark in colour.
Remove from the oven, transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week. Dust the tops with icing sugar just before serving and serve them with a glass of mulled wine or Vin Santo.
If you don’t have fresh roasted chestnuts, you can use cooked chestnuts from a vacuum pack instead (the texture will be slightly different but perfectly acceptable).