The classic combination of biscotti and coffee has become popular in regions all around the globe. Originating from the Roman empire, you can now find various biscotti flavors in the majority of coffee shops around the world. From Starbucks drinkers to mom and pop bistro shoppers, grabbing a biscotti with your coffee has become a regular practice for many coffee drinkers.
Let's talk about how the biscotti got its name. Breaking down the word to its Latin origin, you'll see that biscotti literally means twice baked. The first half of the word, bis, means twice, while the second half's root word, coctum or cotto, means cooked. Now for the pronunciation. In the United States, you typically find biscotti being pronounced two ways- 'bis-cah-tee' or 'bis-coh-tee'; however, neither of these are the correct Italian pronunciation. To correctly say biscotti as it is meant in Italian, you should pronounce it as 'bis-skhot-tee'. Listen to the correct pronunciation here!
You might be surprised to find that the biscotti can be traced back as far as the Roman empire. The biscotti during this time wasn't enjoyed lounging with an espresso or glass of vin santo. Instead, the biscotti was a food that became popular for travel due to their durability after the second bake. Many Roman soldiers would take packages of biscotti to battle and enjoy them for weeks to come. These biscotti had less sugar than today's counterpart and were considered extremely nutritious by the Roman armies. The biscotti kept them full and satisfied while traveling to and from battles.
Although originating within the Roman empire, the biscotti gained popularity and spread around the world through its Tuscan revival. After the fall of the Roman empire, nothing inventive was happening in Italy's food culture until the Renaissance, when one Tuscan baker brought back the biscotti. The baker had found that the dry cookie worked perfectly to soak up a sweet wine, vin santo. After this reintroduction, the biscotti began being adapted by other bakers, resulting in introducing new flavors and serving a biscotti with espresso or coffee.
The most common biscotti flavors, considered traditional, include almond and anise. However, if you go into coffee shops around North America, you'll likely only find almond, along with a variety of chocolate-covered and holiday-inspired biscotti. Another common flavor is cinnamon sugar, and is simple to make in your own home! Whip up the recipe below and enjoy with a glass of vin santo, or indulge by dipping into a rich cappuccino. These biscotti are perfect for storing for a couple of weeks in one of our biscotti jars!
This recipe will make approximately 40 biscotti.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Let's get baking:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of sugar and the butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add 1 egg; beat well. Add egg yolk; beat well. Mix in vanilla, then dry ingredients.
Transfer your dough to a clean work surface. Divide in half. Shape each half into 9-inch-long 1 1/2-inch-wide logs. Transfer logs to your parchment-lined baking sheets. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl—brush logs with the egg. Bake until golden and firm to touch, about 50 minutes, expect the dough to spread. Cool on baking sheets. Don't turn off your oven yet!
Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl to blend. Using a serrated knife, cut into logs into 1/2-inch-wide diagonal slices. Place biscotti, cut side down, on baking sheets. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over each biscotti. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on racks.
Enjoy with a foamy cappuccino or sweet vin santo! Saluti!