You know that feeling, when you hear a song, or taste something, and in a glimpse, it takes you to that very moment you heard or tasted it before. I have my own secret taste-time machine which is well hidden in a beautiful bottle deep in a cupboard. I use it rarely so that it doesn’t lose its magic. It is my grandmother’s rose liqueur. But it’s so much more than just that…
It is the taste of her love, mixed into home-baked apple strudel, pancakes, ice-cream and her delicious marble cakes she would make so often for her grandchildren. With ten of us, for countless desserts, she had to make a generous batch of rose liquor each year. Now, at the age of 86, the only hard thing she finds is the lack of strength to cook “a little something” each time we come to visit. But her unbroken spirit, unconditional love and endless positivity nourishes and inspires on all levels. I couldn’t miss not to see her last week when we were in Croatia. Now back in the Netherlands, I need more of her presence… I need the taste of rose liqueur…
These biscotti have been somewhat inspired by Italian cantucci, a famous hard cookie usually served and dipped in wine. But I wanted a vegan, less hard cookie, rich and aromatic. The pistachio, cardamom, orange and rose flavours blend so well together. They can be substituted with almonds, cinnamon, lemon, and even the addition of dried fruits, will still result with wonderful crunchy treat.
Twice baked for crispy perfection, these biscottis are delicious as are, but I find that dipping them into orange carob glaze makes a perfect combination of textures and flavours. Melting orange-flavoured chocolate revealing a crunchy nutty biscotti underneath – what an explosion of taste and sensation in the mouth. Dark chocolate glaze can be used instead of carob, but despite many health benefits of chocolate, I prefer to use carob which is very similar in taste (though you might add just a tablespoon of raw cacao to do the trick) while at the same time it doesn’t stimulate your hormonal system.
Full flavour develops after a few days, so once baked, try to hide the biscottis before they’re all gone. With or without wine, with a cup of yogi tea or warm carob milk, I’m sure you will enjoy them.
Vanilla might be the most expensive spice used in baking, but my grandmother’s rose liqueur is priceless to me. Unless you have your own version, your secret aroma, you can use rose water, or fresh orange juice instead.
PISTACHIO AND CARDAMOM BISCOTTI
- 1,5 cup/180 g spelt flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons polenta/coarse cornmeal
- 1,5 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cardamom powder
- 1,5 cup/160 g shelled toasted pistachios, unsalted, if available (if using salted pistachios, omit the salt)
- 1/2 cup/80 g coconut sugar, Sucanat or unbleached cane sugar
- 1/3 cup/125 ml apple puree, unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons sunflower, olive or coconut oil
- zest of one organic, un-waxed orange
- 2 tablespoons rose liqueur, rosewater or orange juice
Orange Carob Glaze* (coz we like it naughty, healthy and fancy 😉 ):
- 1/2 cup/120 ml coconut oil
- 1/2 cup/120 ml maple syrup
- 1 cup fine carob powder
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao, optional
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
*you can use dark chocolate glaze as well
Put the coconut oil and maple syrup in a small saucepan over a medium heat. When the coconut oil liquifies, add the carob powder, cacao and salt. Mix well until a smooth paste forms. Stir in the orange juice and remove from heat.
- chopped toasted pistachios
- rose petals
Baking sheet, lined with parchment paper
Makes about 20 biscottis
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas mark 3.
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, polenta, baking powder, salt and cardamom powder.
- Stir in the pistachios.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, apple puree, oil, orange zest and rose liqueur (substitute with rosewater or orange juice).
- Pour the mixture into the large bowl with dry ingredients and stir well with a silicone spatula. Finish by mixing with your hands until a a soft, sticky dough forms.
- Dust your hands with some flour and turn the dough on the baking sheet.
- Shape the dough into one or two logs, depending how big your baking sheet is, about 5 cm (2 inch) wide and 2 cm (1 inch) thick. Neat the edges and both ends.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.
- Allow to cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) Gas mark 2.
- Place the log on a cutting board and using a sharp, serrated knife, cut it at an angle, into 1 cm (1/2 inch) wide slices.
- Lay the slices cut side down on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning them halfway through baking. Baking time will depend how crunchy you want your biscotti to be. The longer they bake, the crispier they’ll be.
- Once golden on the bottom, take the baking sheet out of the oven and allow the biscotti to cool completely on a rack.
- Dip one end of each biscotti in the orange carob glaze and place on a rack. Sprinkle chopped pistachios and rose petals on top and allow the glaze to firm up.
- Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
- Make your own apple puree by cooking an apple with a little water until it softens. Drain excess water, then mash to a puree. Use 1/3 cup of puree for this recipe.
- Instead of pistachios, use almonds or hazelnuts.