Pistacchio Di Bronte, the pistachio grown on the western slope of Sicily’s Mount Etna, is harvested only in odd years. If you missed 2019’s crop, the next harvest will be in 2021. Pistachio trees are alternate bearing, producing heavy crops every other year. Farmers remove the flower in “off” years to allow the tree to rest.
Traditionally cultivated in the Middle East, Asia and eastern Mediterranean, pistachios were introduced to Sicily in Ancient times, probably by the Phoenicians or the earliest Greeks. But, it was the ninth-century Arab rulers of Sicily who encouraged the wide cultivation and later the practice of radically pruning the trees to increase production.
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon Marsala
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 ounces pistachio nuts, toasted (*note below)
- Place pistachios on baking tray in 350* oven for 5 minutes. Toasting the nuts really brings out the flavor, so don’t bypass this step. *NOTE (I have recently discover shelled, roasted and salted pistachios. If you use these it is not necessary to toast them, just remember to omit the 1/2 teaspoon of salt when you’re combining the flour and baking powder).
- Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add Marsala and lemon zest, mix well.
- Stir flour, salt and baking powder together, add to butter mixture.
- Medium chop the cooled nuts, add to dough.
- Cover and refrigerate for an hour, or overnight.
- On parchment-lined cookie sheet, take half the dough and shape into a two logs (12in.x2in.) Flatten slightly. (For a visual look at the technique involved for making these or any other kind of biscotti, refer to the Anise Biscotti recipe). Repeat with the other half of dough.
- Bake in 350* oven on the middle rack 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove and let cool slightly on cookie sheet. Carefully place log on cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange close together back on cookie sheet, bake for an additional 15 minutes until barely golden. Place on rack to cool completely.
Stored in a tightly sealed cookie tin, these delicious cookies will keep for weeks.