Back in 1858 in a small Italian village in Tuscany, a delicious cookie came to be – biscotti. A baker by the name of Antonio Mattei began selling these little dippers from his bakery made with simple ingredients such as flour, sugar and eggs and studded with fruits and nuts found in the area. He shaped the dough into wide, flat loaves then baked, sliced and baked them again, yielding dry hard cookies that could be stored for long periods and travel well. In fact, the word “biscotti” means twice baked.
Our basic recipe for making biscotti can be adapted and flavoured with whatever spices and additions you want. You can substitute fruits and nuts interchangeably, flavourings for one from another, but the basic recipe remains the same. Here are a few extra tips for ensuring successful biscotti:
- Toast The Nuts: Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350F for 7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Toasting them before adding them to the cookie amplifies their rich flavour and adds to the crunchiness of the cookie.
- Use A Stand Mixer: Powerful stand mixers make easy work of making the dough because it doesn’t incorporate too much air. However if you don’t have one, toast the nuts and chop the fruit and nuts smaller by hand. Then make the batter with with room temperature ingredients and knead the dough by hand.
- Moisten Your Hands: The biscotti batter with be sticky and wet, so its best to have moist hands in order to shape the loaves. You can do this by lightly oiling or having water-damp hands.
- Cut While Warm: When biscotti come out of the oven after the first bake, allow cookies to cool down to warm before slicing. You can slice using a large chef knife or serrated knife depending how studded they are with fruit and nuts.