If you were able to make it through all the posts on our trip to Germany and Italy, you may recall that we visited a wine farm in Tuscany . As part of that wine tasting we were to taste a sweet dessert wine.
Now here is a little get to know Sam better tip – I cannot abide sweet dessert wine. Afrikaans has a great little turn of phrase along the lines of “Ek grill my dood”. I cannot think of an English translation that can do it justice, so imagine rather the feeling you get when you just think about your biggest phobia – it is like that. Shivers.
That being said, I clearly was in no hurry to get to that part of the tasting; it is always at the end (obviously) and I never like to leave a tasting with only the syrup of sweet wine clinging to my palette.
But this Italian tasting turned out a little differently. Our host asked that we swirl an almond biscotti into our dessert wine for as long as it took him to not so subtly flirt with, and make his way over to, a pretty young girl across the room. Just after he delivered a kiss on her blushing cheek, we were asked to eat the biscotti, drenched as it was in sweet dessert wine. I must have been lost in the fun of that moment, or my will had been considerably weakened by the preceding Tuscan wine and caught off guard, I did it. I just took one teeny little bite. And then I scoffed the whole thing down. Our handsome young Italian host had won me over with simple almond biscotti.
It was the first time I had ever tasted sweet wine that way, and it made complete sense. Sweet wine should be served no other way. You really should try it. (Unless of course, like me you prefer your sweet wine served like this.)
Around here we heathens tend to eat our biscotti with tea. Or coffee. Or hot chocolate. We have yet to find an hour of the day or night deemed unsuitable for biscotti. We can, and actually have ploughed through a cookie jar’s worth of biscotti in just two short weeks. We are quite the barbarian bunch.
If you have been visiting around here long enough, you may know that I am rather fond of dried cranberries, so there should be no surprise that I turned to them again for pops of sweetness and colour in these biscotti. In principle making biscotti follows the same methodology as rusks, but they are what you could call their daintier, prettier, European cousin.
Let’s have a little fun on the Pomegranate Days Facebook Page (have you joined us there yet?) I want to know if you are a biscotti / rusks tea dunker or not?
- 5 eggs
- 330 g caster sugar
- 5 ml (1 t) vanilla essence
- 600 g cake flour
- 7.5 ml (1½ t) baking powder
- 80 g dried cranberries
- 80 g almond slivers, toasted
- Place the eggs and the caster sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer. Use the whisk attachment to beat them together until pale and thick.
- Add the vanilla essence.
- Change out the whisk beater for the k-beater attachment.
- Sift together the flour and the baking powder and add to the eggs.
- Turn the mixer on at slow speed and beat until all the flour is incorporate and the mixture forms a firm dough.
- Add the cranberries and the almonds and work through the dough.
- Divide the dough into three even sections (use flour on hands to prevent sticking.)
- Shape the three pieces into three even sized loaves and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
- Bake the loaves in an oven preheated to 150˚C for 20 minutes or until the loaves are lightly golden, well risen and baked through.
- Allow the loaves to cool before slicing into thin even slices.
- Place the biscotti slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and dry out slowly in an oven preheated to 130˚C until crisp. About 1-2 hours. If the biscotti browns before drying the oven is too hot and the temperature should be lowered.