The First Biscotti… When, Where And How? (the Italian Coffee Cookie)

The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds, which were abundant in the region.

Not All Biscotti Are Created Equal

By Susan Russo

Get recipes for Traditional Italian Almond Biscotti, Anise, Orange And Pignoli Biscotti, Cherry, Pistachio And Vanilla Biscotti, Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Biscotti With Kahlua Icing, and Maple Walnut Biscotti With Maple Icing.

Sometimes a cup of coffee is simply not enough. Sometimes a cup of coffee needs a biscotti.

On a recent snowy afternoon in New England, I ordered just a cup of coffee at a cafe. That is, until the girl behind the counter asked me, “Would you like a biscotti with that?”

“Sure,” I replied, without hesitation.

When the biscotti was placed in front of me, I was suddenly stricken with buyer’s remorse. … The real disappointment was the dunk. I flash-dipped the biscotti into my latte — any longer, and I feared it would melt altogether. When I pulled it out, it was sadly soggy. I bit into it, and it didn’t crunch. Not even a crackle — there was silence.

When the biscotti was placed in front of me, I was suddenly stricken with buyer’s remorse. It had more holes than a kitchen sponge. When I picked it up, it was as light as a meringue cookie. I counted three almond slivers in the whole slice.

The real disappointment was the dunk. I flash-dipped the biscotti into my latte — any longer, and I feared it would melt altogether. When I pulled it out, it was sadly soggy. I bit into it, and it didn’t crunch. Not even a crackle — there was silence.

If I know one thing about good biscotti, it’s that they’re noisy little confections. That’s because they’re twice baked, resulting in a crunchy, firm, perfectly dunkable cookie.

The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: The dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word “biscotti” to refer to various cookies, Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie.

The biscotti found in stylish cafes today have utterly common origins. The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds, which were abundant in the region.

Because the second baking drew moisture out of the biscuit, it rendered the biscotti hard, sturdy and, importantly, resistant to mold. Consequently, biscotti turned out to be the ideal food to store. They soon became a favored provision of sailors, including Christopher Columbus, who traveled at sea for months at a time with the crunchy cargo.

It didn’t take long for other nationalities to discover the utility of these twice-baked biscuits. British hardtack — a twice-baked, dry, hard biscuit made from flour, water and salt — and German zwieback — a twice-baked, crisp, sweetened bread — are both spinoffs of the Italian original. NPR

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10 thoughts on “The First Biscotti… When, Where And How? (the Italian Coffee Cookie)

  1. I love biscotti…and you have reminded me that I have some in the cupboard….perfect with a cup of after lunch coffee:)XX

    1. LOL! Hello Janet! Happy Friday! ❤️❤️☕️☕️🌺🌺The biscotti has become a favorite worldwide… and, , the granola bars is definitely it’s close cousin.🤔

    1. Me too ! They sure are an ingenious invention for our fast way of life. Funny how the Roman soldiers packed and ate them for road trips. I don’t know if they had coffee or not. I am so pleased that coffee became the popular and welcoming entry of the Biscotti into our coffee culture.

        1. I know and how unfortunate…maybe🤔. You know, I believe that Romans may have had a hot drink ver similar to coffee.🤔

          1. I think ver is vervain, or verbena, which was brewed as tea and had medicinal effects. It’s a mild drug. If I am wrong, please tell me!

    1. The Biscotti rose to fame (Western World) with disco and at the same time, became a big attraction in health food stores.Coffee shop openings boomed and the Biscotti became even more famous. 👍

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