Twice baked traditional Italian biscotti

Bring traditional Italian biscotti to life with a little spice, dried fruit, nuts and even some dark chocolate.

The Italians are very particular about what they dip their biscotti into. For them, biscotti should only be dipped into vin santo, as the dry, crunchy texture of biscotti is ideal for soaking up the sweet wine, not coffee. Mind you, I think a hot, milky coffee is the perfect vehicle for a crunchy, fruity, nutty biscotti.

Biscotti gave us the English word "biscuit", though, unlike other biscuits, biscotti are always twice-baked.

They are baked once in a roll of dough, then sliced while the dough is still warm and baked again. This makes them exceptionally dry, and it's why they keep for so long. That longevity made them perfect for sea voyages, but, for me, it just means they last for weeks in my cupboard.

Fruits and nuts of different shapes and sizes have found their way into biscotti over the years. The original, traditional recipe comes from the town of Prato, in Tuscany. It had only flour, eggs, sugar, pine nuts and almonds. It defines the classic biscotti, with no fat or butter, to give that dry texture that typifies a biscotti. For flavour, though, I like to add other ingredients, such as spices, dried fruits or even chocolate.

The date and almond biscotti aren't exactly traditional, as dates are rarely used in Italian food, but I love their sweetness, and they work well in this simple biscotti with only almonds.

You could try using pine nuts instead of the almonds, if you'd like. Just roast them for a few minutes less.

In the spiced biscotti recipe, I've dipped them in chocolate. I love the texture contrast, as well as the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. The chocolate does mean that these biscotti won't last as long – only three weeks in an airtight container.

Shaneod Apr 05, 2014 Ask Rachel