Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Cheer - the edible version

Every Christmas I like to produce something handmade, these days with children, work and the general mayhem that Christmas thrusts on our household I tend to leave the sewing machine covered in dust and end up making something in the kitchen. Nigella, I am not but somehow the scents of festive food encourages me to partake in matters of a highly domestic affair as well as having the obligatory tipple of mulled wine whilst I am doing said domestic tasks!!
Friends are not the only victims recipients of the Christmas cheer produced in the kitchen, oh no, so too are the teachers of both my boys - they must LOVE Christmas ;)

This evening I have mostly been making a regular of mine at this time of year - Pistachio & Szechuan Pepeer Biscotti. Given with a bottle of a sweet dessert wine such as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise it goes down a treat. As I tweeted a photograph of the process, I received a request to share the recipe. The scent of the warmed szechuan pepper corns and the caraway seeds is enough to make me pour a mulled wine even if I started the first batch at a little past 4.30pm - well it's Christmas for gods sake!!! Here is my gift to you - the recipe.

The process - wish it was scratch & sniff!

Makes about 30

1-1 and a half tsp szechuan pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
325g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
170g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
100g shelled pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with parchment.
Dry fry the pepper & seeds in frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, cool slightly then grind in a mortar to a rough powder.
Mix the flour & baking powder & salt. Stir in the sugar and the spices. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs. Mix to a firm dough, get your hands in. Once mixed the dough should be firm enough to just hold it's shape. Work in the pistachios.
Dust hands with flour, divide the dough in half and shape each piece into a plump log. Put on the baking sheet and bake for 45 mins until lightly tanned and firm.
Take out of the oven and reduce the heat to 130C. using a serrated knife, slice each loaf diagonally into pieces roughly 1cm thick. Arrange on a wire rack then put it directly into the oven with no tray underneath. Cook for a further 20-30mins until dried and hard.

Enjoy the festive season, one and all x x

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