There is a surprisingly simple lesson to explain the baking process behind a beloved coffee-shop favorite: Biscotti.
In Latin, biscotti translates to twice-baked, "bis" means "twice" and "cotto" means "cooked." Twice-Baked! So simple. So good. Want to know more about this infamous Italian cookie? Here are some facts I've discovered during my extensive biscotti research:
- In Italy, biscotti simply means cookie, a generic term for any cookie of any shape or variety
- What Americans consider biscotti is cantucci to Italians
- Biscotti is plural while biscotto is singular
- Biscotti were first created as a convenience food for Roman travelers, a durable snack for long journeys
- The biscotti we know and love today was created in Tuscany, in cities known for their almond orchards. No wonder the modern biscotti were first an almond cookie!
- Almonds and cherries, a flavor combination made in heaven, come from the same family of fruit trees. They are both considered stone fruits.
Baking Notes & Variations:
As shown in these photos, I've made fairly small 3" biscotti cookies. These are easy to bake and slice, and make a lovely snack. To make larger 6" coffee-house sized biscotti, simply shape the dough into one large loaf rather than two small logs. Maintain the 3/4" height, but press the dough into a rectangular loaf approximately 6-inches wide by 12-inches long. Adjust baking time as needed and check periodically, I estimate you will need to increase the first baking time to about 30-40 minutes. Continue to slice and bake a second time as directed below.
Biscotti can accommodate any flavor profile you can imagine, sweet or savory. You are welcome to make Almond & Dried Cherry as listed or simply swap those ingredients for any Two Cups of mix-in items you desire. Whole nuts, seeds, dried fruits, candied fruits, citrus zest, chocolate or candy chips. Add dry spices directly to the dry flour mixture. Exchange or add to the vanilla extract with any variety of extracts or oils.
As a suggestion, 1 cup almonds + 1 cup dark chocolate chips + 1/2 teaspoon anise seed is an excellent and classic combination. Of course, you could also dip the finished cookies in melted chocolate for added decadence.
Comment below with your recipe variations! I'd love to hear what you make.
Almond & Dried Cherry Biscotti
Yield: 24 cookies, 3-inch
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1/2 cup Butter, softened
- 2 Large Eggs
- 3/4 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 cup Almonds (see notes)
- 1 cup Dried Cherries (see notes)
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Slowly add dry mixture to butter mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Be sure to scrape the bowl to ensure all ingredients are combined. Add the almonds and dried cherries (or other "mix-ins" as desired).
With floured hands, shape the dough into two evenly sized logs and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Press and shape the dough to be about 3/4" tall, 3" wide, and 12'' to 14" long. Smooth the tops and sides to the best of your ability but there is no need for perfection.
Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes, until golden and firm to touch.
Remove from the oven and allow logs to rest on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes—until cool enough to handle yet still warm. If the logs cool completely they become difficult to slice. (Important: This cooling process is essential as it allows the dough to rest and hold its shape.)
Move the baked logs to a cutting board and use a serrated bread knife to cut into 1/2” thick slices. Do not "chop" down with the knife, instead use a steady back-and-forth sawing motion while cutting to ensure the delicate biscotti will not crumble.
Return the sliced biscotti to the same baking sheet and bake at 325°F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the centers are dry to the touch and beginning to turn golden brown.
Enjoy with a cup of coffee, hot tea, glass of milk, or other tasty beverages.