There’s something very special to me about any plant that flowers throughout the winter. When the cold weather is biting, many of the trees are bare and the landscape’s colour palette is more brown than green, seeing a pop of yellow really does brighten up your day. There’s a saying that when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion, and there really isn’t a time of year where a gorse bush somewhere isn’t flowering!
Gorse flowers have a lovely coconut scent, especially if you pass them on a warm day when the sun is soaking the petals. The delicate flowers are surrounded by harsh thorns that are really quite sharp, so there’s a knack to picking them without hurting yourself. Gorse flowers have a very subtle flavour which can be easily lost with too much heat or if combined with strong flavours. I thought that the subtle coconut of the gorse would go really well with the distinctive, yet not overpowering flavour of lightly roasted hazelnuts in these lovely biscotti.
These biscotti are sweet, crunchy, and last really well if kept in an airtight container. I love to take them out with me on walks with a flask of coffee, and they make great gifts too. These are particularly crunchy, so dunking into a drink is recommended so you don’t feel like you’re about to break your teeth. I really enjoy dipping them into coffee (although that’s not typically the done thing in Italy) and taking my time to enjoy them – they’re not a treat you can wolf down which I think adds to their charm. There’s also something about having a jar of homemade biscotti on the counter that makes me feel somewhat sophisticated – a dunk into some coffee (or better, Vin Santo!) and I’m transported out of lockdown London and off to a café in Tuscany…
Hazelnut and Gorse Flower Biscotti Recipe
Makes about 15 biscotti
- 80g hazelnuts
- 1 cup gorse petals (make sure they are out of the furry casing otherwise they will be bitter), washed thoroughly and dried (or alternatively use 1 tbsp desiccated coconut)
- 125g caster sugar
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 125 plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 large egg
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and roast for about seven minutes. Allow to cool a little, then rub in a clean tea towel if there are skins to remove, and roughly chop.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, lemon zest, salt and the gorse flowers. Lightly beat the egg and stir into the mixture, followed by the hazelnuts, and bring together into a dough.
- Tip the mixture out on to a work surface dusted with icing sugar, then roll into a 5cm-thick sausage shape. Place it onto the lined baking tray and flatten the top a little. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch. Take it out of the oven and allow to cool a little.
- Reduce the oven’s heat to 150°C/130°C Fan/Gas Mark 2. On a chopping board, slice the dough into 1cm-wide pieces and lay back on the baking tray. Bake until golden on top (about 20 minutes) before turning over to finish off the other side. Serve warm or allow to cool before storing in an airtight biscuit tin or jar.
As always I love hearing from you, so let me know what you think of these biscotti and if you have a go at making them do share on Instagram tagging @plotandlane.
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