Cranberry-Orange Pistachio Biscotti

Traditional biscotti, also known as “Cantucci or Cantucci di Prato”, are Italian almond biscuits, or cookies.  The English translation means “twice-baked”.   The name is not meant to be clever: you bake this well-known Italian favorite twice. A double bake allows you to get the lovely golden hue and crispy texture that goes so well with a cup of coffee, or even better a nice Vin Santo wine following a meal.

Most people associate these Italian biscuits with the Tuscany region of Italy.  They can be traced back to Roman times.  The Roman biscotti were more about convenience and were considered an ideal travel food, as opposed to a nibble after a leisurely dinner. Biscotti were baked twice to dry them out as much as possible making them durable for travel. It was not until the fall of the Roman Empire that a Tuscan chef reintroduced biscotti, pairing it with a sweet wine used for soaking. Traditional biscotti are flavored with almonds, the almonds came from the groves of Prato, thus taking the name Cantucci di Prato that I mentioned above.

cranberry-orange pistachio biscotti

My favorite biscotti recipe is one I have been making for many years: it is a cranberry-orange pistachio biscotti and it is perfect for the holiday season.  This is not my recipe, and unfortunately, I don’t know the pastry chef behind it—so I can’t properly credit it.  But I think it is fantastic.  I have adapted the recipe somewhat over the years with little tweaks here and there.  I have always liked biscotti, even way before my first visit to Italy as a teenager.
I shared this recipe with a close friend many moons ago, it warms my heart to know she still makes these biscotti every year for family gatherings.  Hopefully, that says something about the recipe.  The cookies are crunchy, with a subtle flavor that is not overly sweet.  Pistachios replace the traditional almonds here, softening the biscuit slightly.  Vodka-soaked cranberries complement the nutty sweet pistachio with a slight tartness that I love classifying these as slightly sweet and not overwhelming.
I find making biscotti rather peaceful and that’s one of the reasons I like making it during the holiday season: it involves a forgiving dough that is easy to work with.  The magic behind making biscotti is not only having a great recipe but also knowing the correct method for the double-baking process.  Your dough gets divided and molded into logs for the initial bake.  The biscotti begins to firm up and hollow out a bit from the first round of baking.
cranberry-orange pistachio biscotti
Once cooled slightly, you slice on a bias and spread out on baking sheets for the second bake.  The second round is what allows the biscotti to firm up and obtain their distinct crunchiness. Just a kiss of coloration on each side ensures a perfect biscuit ready for eating.  Pair these delicious homemade cranberry-orange pistachio biscotti with a great bottle of Vin Santo and you have a lovely gift for almost anyone this holiday season.
cranberry-orange pistachio biscotti
About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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