Saturday night and I was feeling like a thick, fudgey, dense chocolate something. Maybe with fruit and nuts, maybe a little like panforte. Instead, I made biscotti, which has been on my to-make list all summer. When, finally, biscotti and I are on the same page, so to speak, summer has well and truly passed. We have been hit by what the weather reporters are calling a “weather bomb.” Power is down and rooves are being ripped off in some parts of the country. Here in Wellington it’s miserable and bleak: driving rain and furious winds.

A piece of biscotti to be enjoyed with a small glass of sherry later on, when it’s dark, and all I can hear are the winds beating the trees and the steady drip of rain in the pipes ouside.

 Chocolate and walnut biscotti
Recipe adapted from here and here

2 cups standard flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
60 grams butter, cubed
3/4 cup sugar, raw or white, I used raw demerara sugar
1/2 cup roughly broken walnut pieces
50 grams roughly chopped dark chocolate, I used Lindt Orange Intense
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 160°. Stir flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through sugar, walnut pieces and chocolate. If you wish, add a small amount orange zest at this point.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the lightly beaten eggs and the vanilla essence. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms thick dough. (I had to add a dash of milk at this point..)

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and give it a quick knead. Divde dough in two and roll each half into a flat-ish log about 5cm wide. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Heat oven to 170°. Slice each piece of biscotti diagonally to about 1cm thick. Place slices back on baking tray and into the oven for 10 minutes or until slightly browned but quite crisp to the touch.

Serve with sherry(!) or with espresso coffee, maybe combine the two, espresso with a shot of sherry. Biscotti would also be a good vehicle for delivering vanilla ice cream, or perhaps salted butter caramel ice cream, to your lips.

This recipe is begging to be adapted: swap the walnuts for almonds, or macadamias, increase the quantity. Remove the nut or the chocolate altogether and add a good handful of roughly chopped dried figs instead. Reduce the flour quantity a little and make it up with some cocoa. Experiment with the sugars, perhaps a decent tablespoon of maple syrup or a half cup of brown sugar for something a little bit richer and caramely. Add a citrus hit with chopped candied peel and a smattering of orange zest. Swap half the flour out for a cup of ground almonds to really bring forth the soft almond bitterness.

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