Sunday, June 1, 2008

Biscuits d’Amande a l’Orange

There is something about baking bread or making biscuits that makes me feel like I have stepped out of a Pieter Bruegel painting, all fat and jolly and covered in flour. In a way it is such a decadent indulgence when you can buy great bread very cheaply and buy very good biscotti all over Dubai but there is something incredibly satisfying about baking.

Anyway these little biscotti are divine, all orange-y, nutty and crunchy. I like to serve these at the end of a meal with a sherry glass of dessert wine into which you dunk the biscotti to soften them a little.

I learnt to cook these on a short course I attended in France a couple of years ago at this place. This recipe, with minor tweaking, is theirs.

You will need (makes about 60 biscuits)

2 oranges, zest peeled and juiced
1 tbsp cointreau or Grand Marnier
325g plain flour
300g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
325g whole blanched almonds
3 large eggs.

And then you need to:

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

In a small saucepan combine orange zest, orange juice and Cointreau / Grand Marnier. Over a medium heat simmer the liquid and reduce until it is a thick syrup.

In a processor whizz up two-thirds of the almonds until pretty finely chopped. I like to have mine not too fine as I think it gives more texture to the biscuit.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and both the chopped and whole almonds. Give it very good stir.

In another bowl whisk the eggs with the orange syrup and then stir them into the dry mixture. Give it a good work out with your hands until a stiff dough forms.

Scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, split into two equal portions and with each one roll it under the palm of your hands into a cylinder or log. Place onto the baking tray, flatten the top of gently and place in the oven.

Bake for about 30 mins, they should be well risen and should feel firm when pressed. Set onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Once cooled, as carefully as you can slice the log into thin biscuits, something like ¾cm thick. Place them in a single layer back onto the baking tray and pop them back into the oven, again at 180C/350F. Bake for a further 15 or 20 mins until they are slightly toasted. Remove and once cooled store them in an airtight container.

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