HOW TO SNACK WELL

The biscuit that’s made for dunkin’ – and is perfect pre-breakfast

Each week we celebrate the love of a good snack, with genius ideas for eating for pure pleasure – either solo or with friends…

AS A FOOD professional, one of my key areas of interest is the space in which baked goods and breakfast intersect. Sure, there’s the croissant, the chocolate chip brioche, the cinnamon bun, hell – the glazed doughnut! But I’m drawn to the baked goods that weren’t purpose-built for breakfast time. I’m interested in my friend’s family tradition that involves her mum baking a Madeira cake on Christmas Eve so that everyone can have a slice with their tea when they wake up on Boxing Day with a freshly stretched stomach. I’m encouraging you to get into the infinitely adaptable breakfast cake in my first cookbook, Carbs. I’m imploring you to fry your banana bread in butter. And I’m asking you to consider the biscuit.

Last year, I took a trip to Sicily, my first with a baby. Each morning it took us longer to get out of our Airbnb, so we kept a stash of almond biscuits and coffee on-site as a morning snack – a precursor to the main breakfast granita. There were pasticcini di mandorle – soft, dense, chewy, marzipany, fantastically sweet beauties. But there was also boring old biscotti, the hard biscuits of the ’90s and of afterthoughts.

I found myself preferring the latter. Biscotti are transformed when dipped, making them a true coffee-drinker’s snack. You need loads, not just one perched on the side of a saucer, and you need chocolate to melt transiently between your cup and your mouth. Start your day snacking the hard old biscuit way – you won’t regret it.

CHOCOLATE-ORANGE BISCOTTI

Makes 25-30 pieces
INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g golden caster sugar 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg Zest of two oranges
  • 90g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 100g chocolate of your choice, roughly chopped

METHOD
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/ Gas mark 4 and line two oven trays with baking paper.
2. Gently beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and orange zest. Mix with a wooden spoon. 4. Add the egg and vanilla and bring it together into a dough, first with the spoon and then with your hands.
5. Add the chopped almonds and chocolate and incorporate them gently into the dough.
6. Divide the dough in half and – on each of your prepared baking trays – form a slightly flattened log that’s about 25cm long and doesn’t taper noticeably at the ends. They should be about 2cm tall.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until firm on the outside and golden brown.
8. Remove from the oven, turn the oven temperature down to 150°C/Fan 130°C/ Gas mark 2 and leave your biscotti logs to cool for 10 minutes, before gently cutting them into 1cm slices with a bread knife (using a light sawing motion).
9. Arrange the slices on the trays and bake for 20 minutes on one side, and then 15 minutes on the other, until lightly brown all over.

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