From Adriatico: Stories and recipes from Italy’s Adriatic Coast by Paola Bacchia
(Smith Street Books, September 2018 – AU$ 55, NZ$ 65)
Biscotti del pescatore
MAKES ABOUT 35
140 g (5 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
330 g (11¾ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 scant teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
80 g (2¾ oz) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
25 g (1 oz) hazelnuts, toasted, finely chopped
25 g (1 oz) natural almonds, toasted, finely chopped, plus extra whole almonds to decorate
25 g (1 oz) walnuts, finely chopped
40 g (1½ oz) sultanas (golden raisins) soaked in grappa for at least 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F) and line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Beat together the eggs and sugar in a bowl, then add the flour, baking powder, salt and butter and combine energetically using a whisk. (You could also do this with a food processor.) Add the vanilla, nuts and drained sultanas and stir until well combined. The mixture will be quite thick.
Form the dough into walnut-sized balls, then flatten them slightly and press a whole almond into the top of each one. Place them on the prepared trays, leaving plenty of room for spreading, and bake for 20–22 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. The biscotti will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.
Biscotti del pescatore are found in bakeries along the coast of Le Marche; mounds of nutty pastry studded with sultanas perfumed with a hint of rum. They are made without any fuss and keep well in a tin, forgotten for a few days only to be retrieved and dunked happily in a cup of milky morning coffee. Although they typically contain pine nuts, I like using hazelnuts instead (more to do with what is in the pantry than by design), but you can experiment with your favourite nuts. Just remember to toast them – it really does make a difference to the flavour – and keep the quantities the same. My friend Vanessa, who tested the recipe for me, told me she loved the biscotti so much that she ate five that day for breakfast, one after the other.