Now it is safe to say we are firmly in Autumn, I feel it is finally acceptable for me to post something using our very own home grown apples. I know what you’re thinking, especially if you’re Miranda Priestley: Apples, in autumn? Groundbreaking. But, The Devil Wears Prada references aside, I have had my beady eye on those apples since they appeared. So now they’re finally ripe enough and the nagging from my dad to do something with them before the birds do has begun, I feel like the day has finally come.
After making a tit of myself through a few Isaac Newton-esque moments, most of which resulted from a few ill-placed whacks with an old walking stick from the hall, I finally had the task of deciding what to actually do with the abundance of apples I inevitably ended up with. Feeling an apple pie was perhaps a bit too safe, and having already done my take on a crumble in my post for Apple and Ginger Crumble Shortbread, I turned to one of my new cook books. Along with a Japanese Panda shaped mug, Coffee Time Treats was an impulse buy from TK Maxx which definitely raised my Mum’s eyebrows. However, the flavour combinations are really intriguing, using slightly more unusual ingredients to put an interesting twist on more traditional flavours without being too out there. They also throw in the odd bake that I have never heard of, which will be great bake off practice if I keep all my fingers crossed! However, I decided to stay on more familiar territory and chose one of the biscotti recipes. I have made biscotti once before and used a recipe from one the hairy dieters books in an attempt to kid myself that I was being healthy. They turned out really well, so inspired by this success I decided to brave a version of my own. The original recipe was for Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti but I decided to replace the cocoa powder with flour as I didn’t want it to be chocolate based. I also replaced chopped peanuts with pecans to play off the caramelised flavour that apples bring and switched the peanut butter for some stewed apple (which, unfortunately, only made a dint in apple mountain).
On the whole this worked out pretty well. I had to add extra oil and water as the dough was not as sticky as it should have been, partially due to the difference in density between cocoa powder and flour. However, I added slightly too much, meaning the suggested time in the oven rose from 25-40 minutes to nearly 2 hours! Looking on the bright side, this gave me plenty of time to find out how Japanese life is treating Charlie. So if you’re needing a good catch up with a friend, apparently you should make biscotti! However, my lack of patience also didn’t help. I probably should have left it even longer (!) as the biscotti was still soft by traditional standards. This, of course, is probably because I panicked and added too much liquid or because it was absolutely huge, winning it the nickname ‘beastscotti’.
Trying to dry it out in the oven didn’t particularly help either. In fact, it did the opposite. But, to be honest, I actually prefer it softer and, again being modest, it was still pretty delicious anyway. I think it’s really important to use a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids because the richness is delicious against the sweetness of the dough and the apple. Not only did it lower my Mum’s eyebrows, it also went down a storm at work. You can tell a bake has worked out well when I have the guts to take it in! All in all, it’s a lovely autumnal treat. My only advice is that, if you make one the size I did, maybe try and slice it a little bit smaller; the guilt definitely creeps in when you devour a whole slice! Either way, I hope you enjoy!
Apple, Pecan and Dark Chocolate Biscotti (makes 14 large biscotti)
- 340g plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1.5tsp salt
- 100g light brown soft sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 80g pecans, roughly chopped
- 80g 85% dark chocolate, plus extra for drizzling
- 4 cooking apples
- Demerara sugar
- Granulated Sugar
- Put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix until well combined.
- Put the syrup, oil, eggs, water and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until it has come together as a dough and no flour remains.
- Add the chopped pecans and chocolate and incorporate into the dough.
- Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour.
- In the meantime start your apple filling. Peel, core and dice the apples and put them in a non stick pan with a splash of water and a sprinkling of demerara sugar. You can also add a dash of vanilla if you want to enhance the sweetness. Cook over a medium heat until the liquid has evaporated and the apples have begun to break down. Don’t be afraid to add more water if you need to. Once the apples are soft, remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Preheat your oven to 165C/ 145C Fan/ 290F.
- Sprinkle your work surface lightly with the granulated sugar. Transfer your dough onto your surface and flatten with your hands. Spoon over dots of the apple mixture.
- Roll the dough into a log so all the apple is encased in the middle. Place on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven until the top is hardened and the whole loaf feels sturdy instead of squishy.
- Remove from the oven and leave for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 155C/ 135C fan/ 265F.
- Slice the cooled log into your desired biscuit shapes and place each one back on the lined baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes to crisp out, then turn and bake again for the same amount of time on the other side. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.