Chocolate frangipane, shortbread and nut swirls

Chocolate frangipane, shortbread and nut swirls

These biscuits are based on a method for biscotti eureka, but I have radically altered the recipe – it bears little resemblance to the original now other than the construction method and that it requires a shortbread-type biscuit and a frangipane-type filling.

I have baked biscotti eureka a few times, and I find them delicious but they are definitely a more acquired ‘adult’ taste. By that I mean not sweet enough for children. The biscuit layer has no sugar and the orange frangipane gives quite a bitter orange flavour. I love the shape of these biscuits, that they are rolled in chopped almonds and the dual texture of crisp biscuit and softer frangipane. As my children loved the look of them but didn’t love the taste I thought I’d take the original idea and adapt it for them.

The original recipe comes from the utterly marvellous ‘Southern Italian Desserts’ by Rosetta Costantino (I only think this was printed in the US, but you can find copies online). This book is a wondrous mix of Italian baking recipes coupled with the author’s experience of the region and anecdotes on each recipe. Costantino’s delight at discovering each recipe and her descriptions of southern Italy and its foodie history drip off the page. The food photography that accompanies her words is glorious too. This is one of my most treasured and well-read recipe books – if you are an avid food book reader like me, I’d urge you to get hold of a copy; I doubt you’d be disappointed. Make the original biscotti eureka too – they are lovely and actually I can image that the orange-flavoured original and these chocolate frangipane versions would accompany each other quite nicely – choc ‘n’ orange is a rather delicious food pairing.

However, back to me wanting to recreate these biscuits but with a flavour that would appeal to my children  – and anyone else with more of a traditional sweet tooth. I decided to alter the biscuit recipe drastically and now, rather than a plain unsugared dough I have substituted a shortbread recipe of my own. The marmalade and orange peel that went into the original filling is also gone. I have substituted a chocolate frangipane for the original filling, so now this is completely different from the original too. What is the same is the method – a biscuit and frangipane are made separately,  rolled together and chilled. An egg white wash is used to moisten the rolled dough and the whole thing is smothered in chopped nuts (I’ve used hazelnuts rather than the original chopped almonds, as I felt there were enough almonds in the frangipane mix).

So, this is most definitely a homage to Ms Constantino’s version of the biscotti eureka she discovered in Sicily, but it most definitely is quite different in taste and ingredients.

Notes

  • Makes about 30
  • Eat them on their own with a coffee or glass of milk or a great accompaniment to ice cream

Equipment

  • Bowls
  • Rolling pin
  • Baking sheets, lined – you’ll need at least two (depending on size)
  • Extra baking parchment or a silicon mat
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Cling film
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients  – biscuit dough

  • Plain flour – 175g
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 100g
  • Ground almonds – 25g
  • Caster sugar – 30g
  • A little milk to bind

Ingredients – chocolate frangipane

  • Golden caster sugar – 100g
  • Unsalted butter – 80g
    Plain flour – 50g
  • Ground almonds – 100g
  • Baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Egg, whole, medium – 1
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chocolate, chips or finely grated – 100g

Extra ingredients

  • Egg white – for egg wash
  • Chopped hazelnuts – about 50g

Method – biscuit

  1. Rub the butter into the flour and almonds thoroughly
  2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and use a little milk to make it bind together
  3. Pat it into a rough rectangle shape, cover in cling film and chill in a fridge or quickly in a freezer
  4. Make the frangipane by creaming the butter and sugar and then mixing in all the other ingredients except for the chocolate
  5. Tip the chocolate in and mix gently
  6. Put to one side until the biscuit dough is chilled (you don’t want it frozen, just not soft anymore)
  7. When the biscuit dough is chilled enough, put it on some baking parchment or a silicon mat and roll out until it is a rectangle of about 34 cm x 16 cm or thereabouts (just over a foot in length in ‘old money’ x about 8″). Manipulate the dough with your hands to get it to as good a rectangle as you can – you could even trim bits off with a knife and reattach them where you need it. Anyway, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just the best you can do
  8. Spread the frangipane all over apart from  a 1cm strip down each long side of the dough
  9. Using the parchment or baking sheet it’s sitting on, roll up the biscuits from one of the long edges, so it resembles a Swiss roll shape.
  10. Roll the biscuit over until the ‘seam’ sits underneath and then chill the whole thing in the freezer or fridge – it needs to be firm in order to cut the biscuit rounds out
  11. Just before you take the biscuit dough out of the fridge or freezer put your oven on to 170C fan / 185C conventional
  12. Once cooled again, brush the egg white all over the biscuit roll (avoiding the ends) and then roll in the chopped hazelnuts. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect so don’t worry about coating it completely in the nuts
  13. Have the baking sheets ready
  14. Take the roll and slice rounds off from one end (the two ends will be a bit wonky but that doesn’t matter) – they need to be about 8mm thick – I think that’s about half an inch
  15. Roll each biscuit round in the fallen off chopped nuts and place on a baking sheet
  16. You may want to shape the biscuit with your hands, as they are liable to have squashed a little during cutting. Leave a 2cm / 1 inch gap between biscuits to allow for spread
  17. Once you’ve cut as many biscuits as possible from the roll pop both baking sheets in the oven for 20 mins – they should be a nice golden brown
  18. Once cooled they can be store in an airtight container
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