Crunchy Christmas biscotti

Day 3 of my Sensitive Foodie advent calendar, and it’s another sweet treat. Perfect for dunking in a hot coffee or dairy-free chocolate on a soggy or chilly winter’s day, these super crunchy biscotti are packed with seasonal spices and a satisfying crunch.

I have a friend who makes amazing biscotti, or rather cantuccini.  Being Italian, she follows a traditional recipe using eggs, lots of refined sugar, baked with passion and love. Cantuccini are made with almonds and are designed to dip in sweet wine rather than coffee, which sounds like a wonderful idea!

Biscotti means ‘twice baked’. This process of double baking is what makes these biscuits so crunchy and dipable. It does take a little more time than your normal cookie or biscuit, but it’s well worth the effort.

I’ve sat in my friend’s kitchen watching her make her gorgeous cantuccini, the wonderful aroma wafting in the air and wondered how to make them fully plant-based and less refined. After a few experiments, I’m very pleased with the outcome. They can be made gluten-free as well, which is good news for anyone avoiding gluten. They keep in an air-tight container for a few weeks, so you can make a big batch to tide you over the Christmas season.

There’s all sorts of flavour combinations you can use; to make these seasonal I’ve added some dried cranberries with the almonds as well as some all spice flavouring to bring in the Christmas taste. You could use cinnamon or cloves, or a combination – whatever you have to hand. If you’re feel like making some home-made gifts, you could bake a batch then pop them in pretty gift bags.
So why not give these a go and get ready for some seasonal dunking? Don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Almond, cranberry and spice biscotti (makes approx 26)
165ml dairy-free milk
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
75g coconut sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
4 tablespoons hempseed or olive oil
200g spelt flour/gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground all spice
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
85g almonds, sliced
65g dried cranberries

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Put a silicon baking sheet onto to tray, or line with baking paper.
Pour the dairy-free milk into a bowl and add the ground flaxseed, coconut sugar, apple sauce, hempseed oil, and almond essence. Whisk well to combine and then leave to thicken for a few minutes.

Place the flour, baking powder, all spice and salt into another bowl and stir to mix well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir to combine – it’s a dry mix so hands will be needed to finally pull it all together. If it’s a little wet and soft, add some more flour so it doesn’t stick. Add the almonds and cranberries, working them into the dough with your fingers so none stick out the sides. This takes a couple of minutes to ensure everything is spread throughout the dough. Cut the dough in half.

Place one half onto the baking sheet and press out out into an oblong shape, pushing the edges and ends straight with your hands. It should be approximately 28×8 cms in size. Repeat with the other half of dough, then place the baking sheet in the oven for 25 minutes or until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray for about 30 minutes.

Once cool, cut into slices approximately 2cm thick; place each slice back onto the baking tray lying on it’s side. Pop back in the oven for 6 minutes, then remove, turn each slice over and pop back again for another 5 minutes. Remove one the slices are very firm to the touch and golden brown. Remove, leave to cool (they harden a bit more) and then keep in an air-tight tin if you don’t eat them all at once. Enjoy!