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Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci


(or “Honey Nut Squares” for those non-Italian speakers amongst you!)

Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

It’s funny how food blogging has changed the way I think about what we’re going to eat/ bring to friends’ houses/ serve to our own guests etc…  This month’s entry for Gourmet Unbound is a good example.

A couple of weeks ago, Neil emailed me the information about his curling club’s annual “bakeoff” and wondered whether I might contribute something this year.  We boycotted last year in protest since my home made lamingtons had not made the cut the previous year (seriously, people, what WERE you thinking?).  I looked ahead at my blogging ideas list and saw I needed to make something for Gourmet Unbound and since my previous two entries have been savory, I figured why not try something sweet.  So from March 2003, I chose Honey Nut Squares.

Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

The recipe called for honey which, too late, I realised I didn’t have, so I substituted Golden Syrup and beautiful buckwheat honey, sent to me by the lovely Linda, aka SaltySeattle (post to come of the goodies her food exchange package included!).  I also substituted whole pistachios for the pine nuts since I though it would give the nut/ caramel mix some colour.  So yeah, it’s kinda sorta Gourmet Unbound!  Look at how beautifully it came out though:

Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

And up close, cut into squares:

Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

I love how the pistachios add that little splash of colour to an otherwise orangey hue.

Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

And the crust?  Errrr, yes, it’s a bit thick.  Pastry, like bread baking, really is not my thing and I was making this in the middle of tweeting and emailing back and forth with Barb from VinoLuci, who was kindly helping me out with my permalink nightmare after transferring my blog to WordPress.  So I guess the pastry was baked with a handful pinch of my stress and didn’t come out as evenly as it should have.  It also didn’t taste quite as buttery as I would have liked, however, it did win second prize at the Curling bakeoff – a $30 gift card to Williams Sonoma!  Maybe once they’re back in stock with coeur à la crème molds (ahem – remember when I was attempting to buy them two days before St Valentine’s???), I might splash out!  If you’re wondering why I didn’t win first prize, well it doesn’t really matter since the prize was a cookbook which I certainly don’t need any more of!!!

In any case, it’s a pretty easy recipe, especially if baking IS your thing and well worth a try.

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Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

For crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For topping
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup whole almonds with skins (3 oz), toasted
3/4 cup hazelnuts (4 oz), toasted and any loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel
1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 oz), lightly toasted

Special equipment: a pastry or bench scraper

Preparation
Make crust:
Butter a 9-inch square metal baking pan (2 inches deep) and line with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter foil.

Blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

Add egg and stir with a fork (or pulse) until a crumbly dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Press dough evenly onto bottom (but not up sides) of baking pan and bake in middle of oven until edges are golden and begin to pull away from sides of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Make topping:
Bring honey, brown sugar, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add butter and cream and boil, stirring,1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in all nuts until completely coated.

Pour nut mixture over pastry crust, spreading evenly, and bake in middle of oven until topping is caramelized and bubbling, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Lift dessert out of pan using foil overhang and cut into 25 squares.

Cooks’ note: Honey nut squares keep, layered between sheets of wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

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32 Responses to Biscotti Quadrati al Miele e alle Noci

  1. Martha February 21, 2010 at 16:01 #

    Those look delicious. Have fun spending the gift card!

  2. Geoff February 21, 2010 at 18:39 #

    You’re not getting off that lightly – what did win first prize at the curling bakeoff. Curling that’s not a sport is it?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 21, 2010 at 18:57 #

      Shortbread with toblerone chunks apparently. Can’t compete with that! And no, at the risk of my citizenship being taken away from me, curling seems to be more about shouting and drinking beer (at least at Neil’s club!)

  3. Linda February 21, 2010 at 18:58 #

    I am glad the honey was there for you in your time of need! I wonder if it gave them a more robust flavor than mild honey would have? They look absolutely delicious!

  4. Laurie February 21, 2010 at 20:54 #

    That’s a very attractive dessert. Love the pictures. Congrats on winning the gift certificate!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 21, 2010 at 21:02 #

      Thanks Laurie – I was a bit nervous working with caramel like that and pastry – my nemesis – but it all worked out in the end!

  5. Pam M February 21, 2010 at 21:50 #

    The Biscotti looks wonderful, I am definitely going to make them.
    I love making pastry, so the base is not a problem, although I have recently discovered a wonderful store- bought pastry which is sold in a roll and it’s wonderful.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 21, 2010 at 21:51 #

      Mum – yay! You made your first comment on the new site! Hope you like it! Glad you like the squares – they’re definitely something that Dad would like to get his teeth stuck into – literally. Cut them VERY small though…

  6. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best February 21, 2010 at 21:57 #

    This nut tart looks amazing! I’m imagining the wonderful textures and rich flavors.

  7. K a b l o o e y February 21, 2010 at 22:23 #

    Wow, that looks wonderful, Mardi, and your pictures really are beautiful. Love the long lens close up. Congrats on your win — I love gift certificates. Congrats to me as well for going three sentences before mentioning the Canadian elephant in the room: Neil’s got a curling club??

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 21, 2010 at 22:37 #

      Yes, sadly Neil is an avid curler. Do you know I had never heard of this “sport” until I moved to Canada?

  8. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction February 21, 2010 at 22:29 #

    Yum… These look absolutely fantastic. I love nuts, so I’m sure these will be a new favorite. Great choice for Gourmet, Unbound!

  9. Cat February 21, 2010 at 23:51 #

    these look delicious! i like the green pop of the pistachios too. congrats on the win – a w-s gift card is always nice!

  10. Conor @ HoldtheBeef February 22, 2010 at 07:45 #

    Hooray! I’m able to view and comment on this post! I hope the blog poltergeists bugger off soon, you poor thing :(

    Well done on the second prize, though I’m curious as to what beat you?

    Also, why am I not in the slightest bit surprised that Mr Neil is an avid curler?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 22, 2010 at 08:07 #

      Yes, the blog poltergeists will shortly be leaving the building for good. Barb @VinoLuci has it under control!

  11. Meeta February 22, 2010 at 07:50 #

    yaaaah1 I can comment on this! this is an amazing biscotti and i think i would have trouble sharing it with anyone!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 22, 2010 at 08:06 #

      Well apparently it was snapped up in no time at the bakeoff! Thanks for coming back to comment!

  12. Simply Life February 22, 2010 at 08:38 #

    Wow, these look amazing! And I love the new look to your blog!

  13. Diana@Spain in Iowa February 22, 2010 at 20:21 #

    Yummy nut tart Mardi! Congrats on the gift certificate :D

  14. penny aka jeroxie February 22, 2010 at 21:31 #

    Love love it!! Sweet goodness. Yummo. And I am glad that your site is back up.

  15. Dominique Hind February 22, 2010 at 22:09 #

    I know in recent posts that you have said that you like Baileys and I was just wondering if you would want one of the free cookbooks they are giving away at the moment. If you sign up to the Baileys Lounge you get a free cookbook pdf download and a chance to enter the draw to win one of five TVs (www.baileyslounge.com.au).

    Thanks for such an interesting blog. I could imagine it being a great break from academia….

  16. Mr. Neil February 23, 2010 at 09:07 #

    Okay, okay….enough of the slagging off the curlers! :-)

    It is indeed a sport, one where finesse AND fitness are required, and a healthy dose of strategy.

    Let’s just say with the open voting I used some strategy to help pull in the votes as well. Maybe I should have quietly kept the gift certificate? Hmmmm? ;-)

    We’re in the playoffs at the moment, and alas my team is about tenth out of 24. Last two weeks I had difficult final hammer shots to eek out a tie, and came up a tad short. :-(

  17. Fuji Mama February 24, 2010 at 19:41 #

    Ooooooh, this looks DIVINE! I definitely need to try this. Yay! Congrats on the win! :D

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 25, 2010 at 21:23 #

      Thanks. I am happy that the curlers liked it. Though why they did not pick my lamingtons two years ago…

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