• Best ever Christmas present

Usually my mum hates desserts.  She doesn’t even eat chocolate.  So when I caught her secretly stealing stashes of these biscuits, I knew the recipe was a keeper.

Ok, so it is awhile away, but I feel in the Christmas mood already.  I love Christmas, I love the time with family, I love the food, I love the festive mood.  Most years I cruise the shops struggling to find suitable presents and sometimes I even resent the commercialisation that has forced itself on the event.  So as Christmas is meant to be more about love, this year, I will be using love and time to make biscotti for everyone.

After finally receiving my copies of Baked and Delicious, that I won from I Eat Therefore I Am I was in an overly enthusiastic baking mood.  The recipes were simple – too simple, I would have been very excited by them when I was 7 years old – but this can still be a bonus when cooking in a hurry.

The recipe in the magazine asks for caster sugar, but I have found myself replacing this with raw sugar as it gives a toffee-like caramelisation.  I also tried it with soft brown sugar, but this made the texture too soft.  This recipe is great with hazelnuts, but you could also use almonds or another small nut with crunch.  Rather than adding the wet ingredients all at once, I have found it easier to add them in increments so that it is easier to mix. I also increased the amount of vanilla for more flavour – plus I love vanilla (even if it is just essence)!

225g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
175g raw sugar
2 eggs
1 ½  teaspoon vanilla extract
Rind of one large orange
100g hazelnuts

Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl, stir the flour and baking powder.  Add the sugar and stir until the ingredients are combined.

Add one egg and the vanilla essence, stir them together before adding the second egg.  When the mixture is starting to come together, add the orange rind and nuts.

Push the mixture together with your hands until it is all combined.

Form the mixture into thick coils, then place them on an oven try lined with baking paper.  Flatten the coils slightly.  Cook for 20 minutes – when the outsides are golden, they are ready!

Put them on a cutting board while they are still warm and cut into slices about 1 ½ inches thick.  Transfer to a wire rack so that they harden as they cool. Voila!

I will be presenting these in cellophane bags with colourful ribbons over Christmas, but I did give some away the other day in a simple freezer bag covered by bright tissue paper held together with ribbon.

Let me know what you think!