Fig Biscotti is absolutely one of my favorite recipes. Biscotti, the classic “twice cooked” cookie originating in Prato, is probably one of the most commercialized food items there is. Who would ever have imagined that you could buy industrial-sized packages of biscotti at Costco. These days a container of biscotti sit atop just about every coffee shop, bodega, and supermarket counter you can think of; often times the quality is rather disappointing. Preparing a batch of biscotti is really quite simple and most recipes yield quite a few pieces. The technique used for Fig Biscotti is traditional but unlike most recipes which use butter, Fig Biscotti uses olive oil.
Biscotti baking is a passion of mine, even though I have yet to post one recipe on La Bella Sorella. There is a range of styles and flavors when talking biscotti, all take-offs on the original Biscotti di Prato. Fig Biscotti or Biscotti di Fichi are my go-to biscotti in the fall; plump dried figs, toasted walnuts, cinnamon, & lemon peel give these biscotti the perfect autumnal flavor and texture.
Preparing biscotti is a merely a process starting with making the dough. When baking cookies of any sort, I always add any flavorings such as citrus peel and extracts to the fat to allow for maximum flavor absorption. Refrigerating the uncooked biscotti dough, already formed into log shapes overnight is best, as the flavors deepen and the dough is able to firm up a bit.
Another helpful tip when baking biscotti it to let the biscotti logs completely cool before slicing prior to the second baking or toasting. Use a serrated knife but refrain from using a sawing motion with the baked logs; a gentle pushing down of the knife is best.
If you are in Thanksgiving preparation mode (and who isn’t), Fig Biscotti are an excellent choice and freeze well. Biscotti di Fichi are wonderful at any time but especially with a nice espresso.
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- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Finely grated peel from one medium sized lemon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup of lightly toasted walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
- 1½ cup of dried figs cut into small pieces
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl and whisk together until combined well.
- Place the olive oil, eggs, sugar, lemon peel and vanilla extract into the work bowl of a standing mixer and beat starting on low, increasing the speed to medium-high for 5 minutes. You may want to put a clean cotton dishtowel over the mixer bowl to avoid splattering. Midway through the beating, stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl; the mixture will become pale and thick at the end of the 5 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a large spatula, stir the dry ingredients into the beaten egg mixture until there are no traces of flour. Add the figs and walnuts and stir until they are uniformly combined. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- The somewhat sticky dough will now be divided into logs, either 3 or 4 depending on how wide you would like your biscotti to be. Lay out 3 or 4 lengths of plastic wrap, about 18 inches in length on your work surface. Have a bowl of cold water and a clean cotton towel available while you work.
- Using a spatula, remove the dough from the bowl, laying equal portions of dough in a length at the center of each piece of plastic wrap in the shape of a log. Use the cold water to wet your fingers to help better form the pieces of dough on plastic wrap into a smoother log-like shape. The plastic wrap will further help shape the logs as you completely wrap the dough.
- Place the uncooked, wrapped logs on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet into the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 325º, position two of the oven racks so that the first is in the top third section of the oven and the second is in the middle third.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment (do not use the cold baking sheet that you stored the dough on overnight as it will negatively affect the outcome) and carefully unwrap the logs onto the baking parchment. Position them carefully so that there is room for the dough to expand as they cook; if there are two logs on a sheet they should be 4 inches apart.
- Place the baking sheets into the preheated oven and bake until lightly brown - this should take about 25 minutes depending upon your oven. Halfway through the first bake, quickly reposition the baking sheets to the opposite oven shelf while rotating each of them from front to back Once the logs are golden and firm to the touch, remove to a rack to cool completely. Turn off the oven.
- When the biscotti logs are completely cooled they may be cut and prepared for the second baking or drying. Preheat the oven again, this time at 275º. Place one log at a time on a cutting board and using a serrated knife cut on a diagonal into slices of about ½". Placed the sliced biscotti back onto the parchment lined baking sheets, continue until all of the biscotti have been sliced. Place the baking sheets into the preheated oven, close the door and turn off the temperature. Set the timer for 30 minutes and after 30 minutes remove the baking sheets to cool. The biscotti sides should be suitably dry by this point. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Once completely cooled the Fig Biscotti may be stored in zip lock bags and placed into the freezer.