When I was a young ‘un, I understood that “biscotti” meant “a rather hard, crisp cookie found in hipster coffee shops”. While that definition wasn’t necessarily wrong, it didn’t tell the whole story, and it wasn’t until many years later that my language-loving self learned that it came from the Italian for “twice cooked”. “Bi” = “two”; “cotti” = “baked”.
The twice-baked nature of biscotti makes them a little fussier than just making a drop cookie, but when I found myself craving a very specific flavour combination a couple of weeks ago, I knew it was going to demand those crispy edges, that texture. I managed to find the recipe I used the last time I made them (about, oh, four jobs ago) and altered it to suit my needs: about 2 Tbsp orange zest grated into the batter, and 1/2 cup chopped pistachios instead of the chopped cherries called for.
It’s hard to tell from the picture above, but that bowl smelled of orange zest and almond extract at that point and was making the whole kitchen smell good.
Once the chocolate chips and pistachios were mixed in, I shaped the dough into two loaves for the first bake (prima cottura?) After the loaves were slightly golden and set, they cooled off for ten minutes before slicing diagonally into 1/2″ slices.
I had…issues…with the slicing part. While I admit that I did not have a ruler handy to ensure perfect 1/2″ intervals, the recipe didn’t exactly tell me what kind of angle I was supposed to use. If I tried to cut them thin-ish (i.e. 1/2″-ish), they’d be so thin that they’d break and crumble; if I cut them thicker, they’d…break and crumble, but also be really thick. No way was I getting the projected 18 slices out of the first loaf. On the second loaf, I thought I was smart when I started by cutting it in half, thinking it would be easier to sub-divide each half into 9 slices. Oh, how wrong I was.
Once the loaves were hacked into as many viable slices as possible, in they went for their second bake. The recipe specifies “cut edge down”, as though there are a bunch of home bakers out there who try to balance them on edge. After 8-10 minutes on one side, and then flipped for 5 more minutes, they were a delightful golden brown colour.
They weren’t going to be winning any beauty contests, but don’t judge a book by its cover: my test audience loved these. They had a much more sophisticated flavour combination than your garden-variety chocolate chip cookie and provided a nice palate reset after weeks of rich holiday baking. I have no idea how to get around my slicing issues (but am open to suggestions!) but haven’t counted this recipe out yet.
Thanks for looking! 🙂