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The traditional ‘dunking’ Italian biscuit, biscotti are a popular choice worldwide. They can be dipped in coffee or sweet wine, and will not disintegrate into a soggy mess! In addition, the recipe is really versatile, so you can use any combination of nuts and dried fruits that you fancy or happen to have in the cupboard. Hazelnuts work well; so do cranberries and pistachios. They also make great gifts – pop a few in a cellophane packet, tie with a nice ribbon and you have a gift that’s as nice to give as to receive.


  • 2¼ cups (270g) plain flour
  • 1 tsp (5ml) baking powder
  • ¼ tsp (1ml) salt
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp (2.5ml) vanilla essence
  • ¼ tsp (1ml) almond essence
  • 1 cup (100g or 250ml) whole almonds with skins
  • 2 Tbsp (30ml) grated orange rind


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Adjust oven rack to the middle position.
  2. Toast almonds, either by placing on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes or by heating in a dry pan. In either case, keep an eye on them because they have a tendency to burn while you’re not looking! Set aside to cool. Once cool, chop them coarsely.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and almond essences. Fold in almonds and grated orange rind with a spatula. Sift dry ingredients over egg mixture and fold in until dough is just mixed.
  4. Using well-floured hands, halve the dough and roll each half into a roll measuring about 5cm x 30cm. For smaller ones, make the rolls longer and thinner. Place them about 8cm apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Pat each dough roll to flatten and smooth it a little.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes, turning pan halfway through the cooking time, until rolls are golden and just starting to crack on top. Cool the rolls for 10 minutes. Meanwhile lower oven temperature to 160°C (325°F). Slice each roll diagonally into 2cm slices (a serrated knife works best). Lay the slices about 1cm apart on a cooling rack placed over the baking tray and return them to the oven. Bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container, since any condensation moisture will make them soft – not what you want from such proudly crisp biscuits!
  6. Makes between 24 and 36 biscotti, depending on how large you make the rolls.