The bitterness of winter doesn’t seem to be tiring anytime soon and evenings bundled up on the sofa rather than sprawled out on picnic blankets in the park deem it the perfect excuse to indulge in some slow cooking. Casseroles, seven-hour leg of lamb, rusk cookies, biscotti- (just to name a few of my favourite things), left overnight or all day in the oven providing not only dinner but the best kind of air freshners on the market. There is only one thing better than the smell of baking cookies- and that is the smell of baking cookies all through the night. You can only hope that the entire batch you let pass your lips was only a dream- a nice one though it may be.
Alas, apparently these chilly times have also proven the ideal time for my 1970’s vintage (but not in a cool way) oven to choke out its final batch of biscotti. Perhaps I’ve abused it a little too much this winter, but I find this timing highly unreasonable. There is still, after all another month (at the very least) of cold weather to come and I shall find no comfort in my unpredictable gas hobs. But in respect to my oven, which lacks any distinguishable feature that might reveal to me what company had made it, in its time it had always worked better than the swanky new GE ovens we have at work. If only it were as easy as calling up a landlord and demanding it fixed or replaced but now that we are proud owners of our apartment it will get added to our ever increasing list of vital home improvements. Our shower broke two months ago and that may now be pushed down in the order of priority- because I think we’d all agree that weekend baking is more paramount than personal cleanliness.
Fortunately, for you, dear readers, my months of Saturdays spent in the kitchen rather than out on the town have paid off and I have a small back-log of recipes to tie you over until my oven recovers/is fixed/or replaced. And like a scolded child I will have to finally start attending to my ‘TO DO IMMEDIATELY’ list, immediately- more or less. Now can we all please have a moment of silence for my oven, which can’t be named.
Gluten-Free Chocolate and Peanut Biscotti
It took me a long time to realise that a Gluten Free diet didn’t have to mean glutton free, as I frequently so cleverly joke. When my coeliac cousin visited us a few weeks ago I was determined to have something in the pantry that would suit her dietary needs and low and behold chickpea flour played trumps. The key here is to pack as much chocolate and nuts into the mixture to balance the slightly, though not offensively, beany flavour of the beans. Of course if I had been really clever I would have made these the day she arrived rather than the day before, which provided 24 hours for glutton-able Don to have his wicked way. Now, there’s an example of someone who wasn’t dreaming about eating an entire batch.
Difficulty: Easy if you have an electric mixer
Makes: Enough to satisfy any Glutton
200g/8 oz sugar
250g/9 oz chickpea flour, or millet flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
300g/11 oz salted peanuts, or unsalted piscachios + 1 tsp salt
300g/11 oz 72 % cocoa chocolate (bittersweet) chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Whisk the eggs and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until very thick (about 10 minutes on a medium speed).
2. Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold in. Fold in the peanuts and chocolate. Using wet hands shape into a long roll (or two long rolls) and place on your baking tray.
3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until set and lightly golden. Turn the oven down to it’s lowest setting. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then slice using a large chefs knife (don’t use a sawing motion or they will fall apart, cut straight down). Place cut side up on a baking tray (perferrably one with holes in it) and allow to dry out in the oven over night.