The word biscotti is derived from the Latin 'biscoctus', where ‘bis’ means twice and ‘coctus’ means cooked, therefore - twice cooked. The dough is formed, baked, cooled and baked again. Where Italians can use the word 'biscotti' to refer to various biscuits, Australians will use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian biscuit.
The biscotti we all know and love today has an interesting past, as do so many European delicacies. The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, (where they were first created in the Tuscan town in the 1300s) was made from almonds, found in abundance in the region.
The second baking drew moisture out rendering the biscotti hard, sturdy and importantly, resistant to mould. As a result, biscotti turned out to be the ideal food to store long before fridges and air-tight containers were even conceivable. Biscotti soon became a favoured provision for sailors to pack on long journeys where it is rumoured that even Genoan-born, Christopher Columbus, enjoyed biscotti.
Biscotti continued to grow in popularity throughout Italy where various regions created their specialties with ingredients sourced from locally available ingredients such as pistachios, hazelnuts and dried fruits. Different regions in Italy also call biscotti by different names. Tuscans, for example, call biscotti 'cantucci'.
In recent years, the delightful little biscuit has received renewed interest and benefitted from slight tweaks like the addition of almond flour, less sugar and even gluten-free flour. For a biscuit that is so simple and easy to make, it sure is a fantastic Christmas addition on a shared platter or to dunk with your coffee in the days following celebrations.
We are excited to share with you Chef Guy Grossi’s quick recipe. Enjoy!! If you have a different version, we’d love to hear your tips on variations.