I went down to the Wairarapa on Sunday, to meet up with my book group. I have not been able to attend often in recent years, due to our absence in Adelaide, and now our residence in Greenhills. But today people from the group who live in Wellington came up to one member’s home in Greytown, and I came down, and we had a fabulous time, talking, and talking, and talking some more. We even talked about books. And watched some Jeeves and Wooster.
I love seeing the women in my book group. We are all of a certain age, and there is so much that we share. Here’s what I wrote about it a year or two ago:
For some years, I belonged to a book group. We were a group of women ranging in age from early thirties to late fifties, we read classic works and every six weeks or so, we got together on a Friday night to talk about them. The conversation would start with the book we had all read, then move on to Jane Austen (of course!), and from there segue to work and family and children and current events and partners and on and on. Some of the women in the group were explicitly feminist, some were not, all of us enjoyed each other’s company, and we enjoyed the women-space.
As well as talking, we ate. I took along some biscotti that I had made, using a recipe given to me by one of the women I work with here in Greenhills. It is divine, and very easy to make. As my friend here says, “Foolproof, and delicious.”
Cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate biscotti
First of all, line a baking tray with baking paper, or grease it well with oil or butter, and turn your oven on to warm up to 175 degrees (Celsius).
Beat 2 eggs and 3/4 cup sugar until they are thick and creamy. Once they are thick enough (about the thickness you would use for a sponge cake, or enough so that when you pull the beater out, lines remain in the eggy mix), add some vanilla essence or paste to your taste, and then fold in 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, and 1 tsp baking powder.
Next, add the delicious bits: 70 grams of pistachios, chopped, 100 grams of dried cranberries, and 100 grams of white chocolate, chopped. I used white chocolate drops, so I didn’t have to do any chopping. And if you prefer them, you can use almonds instead of pistachios.
This all ends up in a very sticky mix. You need to divide the mix in two, and then put it onto your baking tray. Then, wet your hands with cold water, and shape each piece of dough into a rounded loaf about 20cm long, and 7cm wide.
Bake the loaves for about 25 to 30 minutes, until they are lightly browned and firm. Take them out of the oven, and leave them to stand for about 20 minutes, or longer.
Then you need to rebake them, in slices, until you get the proper crispness. Cut each loaf into slices about 1cm wide. This is a bit trickier than it sounds, because the loaves can be a bit crunchy and crumbly. I use a bread knife, and I slice slowly and carefully, rather than trying to rush through the job.
Put the slices onto baking trays and bake them again for abut 20 minutes, turning them over about half way through. You need to reduce the oven temperature for this second baking, to about 150 degress Celsius. Once they are lightly browned on each side, they’re done. Cool them off on racks, and store them in airtight jars.
I have found that the ends of the loaves get far too crisp on the second baking, which gives me a perfect excuse to slice them off and eat them while the rest of the slices are being baked. Usually, when I end up with snacky bits while I’m baking, I give them to my girls, but these biscotti are far too delicious to be shared. You could also vary the mix of delicious bits, leaving out the nuts if someone is allergic to them, or using dark chocolate instead of white, but believe me, the white chocolate in this mix is divine. The only problem is that having eaten one slice, you will eat another. And then another. And then some more.