Throughout the Middle Ages, the pistachios eaten by Sicilians came from eastern Sicily, where they are still grown, particularly around Mount Etna and in the Bronte area.
They are used in many types of recipes from risotto to desserts, as well as mixed with breadcrumbs and used as a coating for fish, chicken, meat and lamb chops.
With the abundance of citrus fruits in Sicily, making candied fruit peel such as, citron, lemon and orange is an excellent way to preserve the fruit’s fresh citrus scent and flavor. Candied peel is often used in cakes, cookies, cannoli and special holiday treats.
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 ounces pistachios, unsalted, chopped
- 1/2 cup candied orange peel
- Cream the butter and sugar and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the orange juice and zest and mix well.
- In another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder and then add to the butter mixture.
- Stir in the pistachios and candied orange peel.
- Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight to firm up. (I take the batter out of the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap and flatten it. It takes less space in the refrigerator and is easier to form into logs. When I remove the plastic, I cut the dough in half lengthwise and then in half again, creating four strips of dough).
- On parchment-lined baking sheets, take a strip of dough and shape it into a log 12 x 2-inches and then flatten out slightly. (See Anise Biscotti). Repeat with the remaining strips of dough, placing only two logs on each pan, as they will spread.
- Bake in a 350*oven on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes and then carefully transfer to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.
- Transfer back to the parchment-lined baking sheet, placing the biscotti close together. Bake for another 20 minutes until they are a dark golden brown.
- Store in airtight containers. I often make several different kinds of biscotti (anise, lemon, espresso, pignoli, bittersweet chocolate, Sicilian lemon Ricotta, brown butter, almond, Venetian Lace ) to have on hand to serve unexpected guests or to give as gifts).