They say that happiness can be found in little things. I would agree, especially because I am such a small human that the thought of being able to give happiness to someone despite my small size fills me with relief and joy! But let’s not talk about my height, eh? I think it will be much more productive to tell you about these cute and yummy biscotti salati. They are the quickest and easiest biscuits you’ll ever make.
With just three main ingredients (ricotta, butter and flour) you can prepare eye-catching and tasty biscotti for your starters, or for a snack when that piece of fruit just won’t cut it and crisps sounds like overdoing it.
Biscotti salati are crispy outside but they tend to be softer inside. This means you get the best of both worlds: the crunchiness right at the beginning and the melting sensation once they are in your mouth. The bonus is that the dough is ready in five minutes and requires no rest. It really is one of those lifesaving recipes when you have unexpected guests at home and you feel bad about offering them shop-bought cheese straws or biscuits.
I don’t know much about the origin of this recipe, apart from the fact that it comes from my mum. Every now and then she comes up with new recipe ideas: from a chat with a friend or some old notes for a similar recipe that inspired her. She always used to serve them in the shape of straws, wrapped in parma ham, as one item among other cold starters, or often as a simple accompaniment to a starter of cured meats and cheese, instead of bread. They go so well together.
But you could make any other shape; for example, you could serve them as mini-sandwiches filled with ham, salami, cheese or vegetables. Don’t leave them lying around, though, if you have a partner like mine: George will scoff the lot as soon as I turn my back.
Serves 6 (makes 20, depending on the shape)
For the pastry
- 150g plain flour
- 100g salted butter
- 150g ricotta, well drained
- teaspoon of salt
- big sprig of rosemary (about 2 teaspoons or more, according to your taste, finely chopped)
Preheat the oven on 180˚C static.
Sift the flour and a teaspoon of fine salt. Chop the butter into cubes.
Mix the flour and the butter in a mixer until the mixture looks like damp breadcrumbs.
Pour the content into a large bowl and create a well.
Add the finely chopped rosemary to the ricotta and incorporate well with a fork.
Add the ricotta to the middle of the bowl and with the tips of your fingers start incorporating the damp crumbs with the ricotta.
It will get a bit messy but be tenacious and keep kneading the dough quickly, until you obtain a smooth and lump-free ball of dough. It won’t take you longer than 5 minutes.
Sprinkle a surface with some flour. With a rolling pin roll out the dough into a square about 1cm deep.
With a knife, chop long or short batons – or any other shape you fancy – and place on a tray lined with non-stick kitchen paper.
Place in the preheated oven. Halfway through the cooking, flip your biscotti salati and bake until both sides are equally gold.
These biscotti salati should not have the consistency of a biscuit. They are slightly soft inside. You can serve them warm or cold as an accompaniment to cheese, salami, ham or even dips,; they are also nice with a cheeseboard or just as a snack.
They will keep well until the next day but I recommend eating them on the day you make them.
I know this recipe will make it to your list of “lifesaving” recipes!