Biscotti al Pistacchio

Tomorrow is my father in laws birthday and to celebrate I decided to bake these delightful Sicilian biscotti.  Tender and delicious these sugar coasted pistachio biscotti are brilliantly green inside and are perfect for a birthday celebration.  I came across this recipe whilst reading one of my new favourite food magazines, Taste Italia.  Reading Italian cooking magazines has been the latest strategy I have employed to assist me on my journey of learning the beautifully exquisite Italian language.  Since marrying into an Italian family I have yearned to learn their passionate language but so far I am failing miserably.  It’s not that I don’t try, I do.  It’s just that I sound awful.  Really awful.  But I am not one to give up so in searching for ways to improve my Italian, a kind friend of mine suggested reading literature that I have a valid interest in.  She basically implied to look at what I read about most in English then seek out the equivalent readings in Italian.  My interest in the subject matter was a sure way to keep me motivated in learning my new language and this brilliant strategy lead me to my loved new Italian food magazine and in turn to these wonderful biscotti.  Two birds with one stone, love it.   

I love the fact that these biscotti are full of pistachios and have absolutely no flour in them whatsoever.  Being a mixture of all nuts creates the most delicious biscotti with a golden outer surface and gooey, nutty, chewy interior.  The biscotti are flavoured even further with assistance of runny yummy honey, fresh lemon zest and velvety vanilla extract.  There is only one problem with the mixture, trying to stop yourself from devouring the entire batter before it reaches the oven! 

By being rolled in icing sugar these biscotti are taken to a whole new level of deliciousness.  I simply took tablespoon size balls of mixture, rolled into balls and dredged them through icing sugar to cover them in a generous coating of the sweet angel dust.  I then studded each biscotti with a pistachio and lined them up on an oven tray ready for a moderate oven. 

The biscotti were ready to be retrieved after 15 minutes in the oven and looked even more spectacular when baked.  In the oven the biscotti had grown and cracked revealing the pistachio green interior in between the scales of icing sugar.  The crust formed on the biscotti was a very promising site; I was delighted to see I had achieved that perfect balance between crusty golden edge and soft chewy innards.   

Once on a wire rack it took only moments for the biscotti to cool sufficiently before we could dig in and have our first taste.  Rob and I both reached the same conclusion, a delicious and perfectly cooked biscotti that would partner perfectly with an espresso.  Yay.  Now for the hard part, exerting enough self control overnight to ensure the entire batch of biscotti makes it to the birthday boy.  Fingers crossed.  Enjoy, K x.

Biscotti al pistacchio
Adapted from Taste Italia May 2011
500g raw pistachios
200g caster sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
3 egg whites
150g icing sugar
40 whole raw pistachios, to garnish
Preheat oven to 180°C.  Pulse the pistachios and 100g of caster sugar in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.  Combine the ground pistachio and sugar mixture with the honey, lemon zest and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly add the egg whites to the bowl, mixing until the dough is well combined.  Add the additional 100g of caster sugar and mix gently.  The dough should be soft but not sticky.  Form the dough into small balls and roll in the icing sugar to coat well.  Transfer the balls to baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, leaving 3cm between each biscuit.  Gently press a pistachio into the centre of each biscuit.  Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the edges of each biscuit are golden. Makes 30 to 40 biscotti.

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