We’re always looking for good cookie recipes, especially, around the holiday season. We haven’t come across a good biscotti recipe, so we were thrilled to try this traditional Jewish cinnamon biscotti recipe with hazelnuts from Acquacotta by Emiko Davis. Simple and delicious – they would be perfect to have with a cup of coffee or tea. Emiko’s father ‘s family is from Pitigliano and they would make these cinnamon biscotti frequently.
Emiko explains that in Tuscany, almond cantuccini are the best known biscotti. Where she lives in Maremma, tozzetti are popular biscotti. She says that tozzetti are “no doubt a tradition that has seeped over the nearby borders of Lazio and Umbria, where they are also common. They’re all similar, of course, but tozzetti are usually made with hazelnuts instead of almonds because they are more commonly available. And then there are mandelbrot (meaning ‘almond bread’) – they’re Jewish cookies that look remarkably similar to classic Tuscan cantuccini, so much so they could be cousins. I can’t help but imagine that tozzetti ebraici are the result of mandelbrot and rustic Maremman tozzetti coming together within the ancient stone walls of Pitigliano. The main feature of tozzetti ebraici is the cinnamon – there’s enough to give these biscotti that hint of coppery brown colour and to perfume the whole house when you pull them out of the oven.”
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- 3 eggs
- 250 g (9 oz) sugar
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 470 g (1 lb 1 oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Dutch (unsweetened) cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- zest of 1 lemon
- 200 g (7 oz) whole, peeled hazelnuts
- Beat together the eggs and sugar.
- Add the oil and blend until creamy.
- Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon, and combine to form a dough. If it’s too sticky to handle, carefully add a little more flour. You should have a soft dough.
- Add the lemon zest and nuts towards the end.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- With floured hands, divide the dough into six portions and roll these into thin logs, about 2.5 cm (1 in) in width. Place them on the baking trays with plenty of space between them.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. They should appear dry and firm, usually cracked along the top but not browned.
- Remove from the oven, let them cool for several minutes until you can handle them, and slice with a heavy, sharp knife (not a serrated knife) into biscotti, about 1.5–2 cm (½–¾ in) thick.
- Return the sliced biscotti to the oven to dry out ever so slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Thick and chunky, these are just the thing for dunking into a cup of tea, coffee or dessert wine.
Excerpt and photo printed with permission from Acquacotta: Recipes and Stories from Tuscany’s Secret Silver Coast by Emiko Davies, published by Hardie Grant Books March 2017.