Biscotti parmesan, gorgonzola and rosemary – incredibly useful to have a handful of these savoury biscuits in a tin for more than a rainy day.
These tasty little numbers fill a hole mid morning, accompany a slice of Parma ham or a soup for a light lunch and mostly, though not always, persuade my son to munch less sugar the moment he’s in the door from school and ravenous. They use two Italian cheeses – Parmesan or Gorgonzola – but other hard and soft varieties work just as well.
Parmesan is one of my fridge basics. I’ll nibble off chunks as a mise en bouche while waiting for meals to cook. I relish its slightly salty sharpness and grainy texture before grating liberally to serve. Gorgonzola is less often in my stores, but makes an appearance in colder months melting in simple pasta dishes with creamy sauces, cubed in subtle soups. Here, I diced it and rubbed it (a bit tricky!) into the biscuit dough at crumb stage to give a subtle pungent hint of it in the biscuits. Rosemary goes perfectly with both cheeses and as I love this perennial herb, which is in fact just starting to flower even now, in January, I sprinkled some more on to serve.
These biscotti need time but not culinary skill to turn out just like those perfectly formed packet ones, only tastier of course. The trick is the double baking (air drying really the second time they’re in the oven). You make them initially in long rolls, slicing them up after par baking. That’s the trick to getting those small oval ‘rondelles’. Bake too long first time and you’ll splinter them on slicing, so watch the timings.
Wrap them in cellophane bags or box them, tie with rustic twine or glitzy ribbon and everyone will think you’ve flown in from Rome with them they’ll look so professional! I made a good few dozen of these as Christmas gifts. Of course, you could just hide them away in that tin to nibble whenever you’re peckish. In my case, this is quite often as the cold in my study drives me to the kitchen in search of a hot drink and something to munch! We got through nearly all 20 of this batch today one way or another, finishing them off with some spring-like courgette & oregano soup for supper. With rosemary buds opening and courgettes tender, January is the new spring in Malta.
Recipe: Parmesan, gorgonzola & rosemary biscotti
Makes around 20-24. Just choose which cheese to add. I’ve given two options here as well in the method – either use eggs or olive oil according to your preference.
- 100g plain flour
- 100g polenta (or use just plain flour if you prefer not to have a more gritty texture)
- half a teaspoon of salt
- some freshly-ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp Parmesan, finely grated or 80g crumbled Gorgonzola, depending on which cheese biscuit you prefer
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary, keeping some to garnish
- 2 medium-large eggs, lightly beaten or use extra virgin olive oil (see recipe method for amount)
- 50 gm unsalted butter, melted (omit if using olive oil)
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Combine all the dry ingredient well, including the cheese of choice. Gorgonzola must be diced up small and mixed evenly in the dry ingredients before adding the eggs-butter or the olive oil.
- If using eggs, whisk up lightly and add the melted butter slowly . Then add the egg-butter mix, little by little mixing in well to combine to a workable dough. You may not need all the egg mixture so pour in slowly. If using the oil option, drizzle in the olive oil slowly mixing as you go until you get a dough – not specific amount but just keep an eye on it. With both liquid options, I recommend using a food processor at this stage.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to a smooth ball. Cut in half. Roll each ball into a sausage around 2-3cm in diameter. Slightly flatten their tops with your palm. Place the rolls on a baking parchment on a tray and bake for around 15-20 mins until very lightly golden and a bit firm. Remove, cool completely. Then slice the dough rolls with a serrated knife into discs around 1.5cm wide. Spread the discs on the same baking tray and return to the oven for around 30 minutes but on a reduced heat of 125°C so they dry out rather than bake hard.
- Serve warmish or cooled; lovely with some more rosemary and drizzled olive oil.. A really useful multi-purpose savoury snack. They keep a good week in an air-tight tin, if they last that long!
All images © Liz Ayling 2013