Biscotti are Italian cookies usually served with wine or hot coffee. Italian biscotti get their name from Latin roots “bis” (two) and “coctum” (baked) meaning “twice baked.” Made from dough that is cooked as a log, sliced, and then cooked for a second time, biscotti not only get their name from their double baking, but also their amazing three-to-four month shelf life.
The earliest record of a twice-baked biscuit comes from second century Rome, where the biscuits were flat, hard, and extremely dry wafers. The biscuit’s dryness helped it resist mold, which made it optimal for storage in an age without refrigeration or preservatives. Because of how well it stood up against mold and moisture damage, the biscuit, known to seamen as hard tack, became a popular source of sustenance for long ocean voyages.
The first biscotti that resembled what is popular today was made in the 13th century, in a little Tuscan town called Prato. A baker needed a treat to serve with the local Tuscan wine. This form of biscotti popularized, and in the 15th century was taken by Christopher Columbus to the Americas in lieu of hard tack.
Although characteristically an almond flavor due to the abundance of almonds in its early history, biscotti cookies now come in a variety of flavors and is found in many different cultures with various cultural names: Dutch rusk, French biscotte, and German zwieback.
What is your favorite type of biscotti? Ours is the butterscotch pecan from our traditional family recipe - hot out of the oven, of course. Let us know yours in the comments!