Friday, October 28, 2011


I made biscotti last week, though I don't think it came out as good as it could have.  I think it needed more anise extract, although the recipe I used called for only one tablespoon.  I think next time, I'll add more.  I brought some to my parents' house on Sunday--my mother had made some homemade soup, and was quite happy to take the biscotti.  She likes it a lot, and she and my father said said father could taste the anise no problem.  Ha! So there, you doubting voice in my head!  (But checking out this woman's biscotti, and all I can say is that I am not worthy.)

 I'm not sure if I should only toast them lightly or toast them until they are very crunchy and hard.  The biscotti I've had before I started to make it was more of a dunking cookie; you were supposed to dunk it in your coffee or tea.  And, I later found out, sweet wine if you rolled that way.

I am not entirely confident in my cookie-making abilities--really, my baking prowess is limited to bread, sour cream coffee cake, and chocolate fudge cake.  I made biscotti last November and everyone seemed to like it but . . . well, let's just say I won't be satisfied with my biscotti until a Sicilian grandmother declares it delicious.

Now, here's a fun fact: twice-baked breads/cookies like biscotti trace back to Roman times.  Pliny the Elder (according to Wikipedia, anyway), said that twice-baked goods could last for centuries (no, they really can't, and yes, I think he was exaggerating).  I do think that twice-baked goods are the basis for the Dwarf bread that Terry Pratchett writes about, with the crucial difference that twice-baked goods--or at least, the biscotti that I know today--are edible and delicious.  (You don't know about Terry Pratchett?  Good lord, you must read his stuff, he is a riot! OK, I will stop putting my dorkiness on breathtaking display now.) 

Roman soldiers and people traveling on long journeys took twice-baked goods with them, as they did have a long shelf life (though not centuries).  I'm doubting that the troops were dunking almond flavored biscotti in their cappuccinos (since coffee was not in Europe at that point) or mugs of sweet wine, though.  I think they were probably eating savory twice baked breads.  Though it would be quite a statement to pack what we know as biscotti today.  I am not fighting a war or marching on any cities unless we have a supply of good biscotti.  And Chianti! My God, not the swill you sent with us last time.  And for the love of all things holy and profane, would it kill you, Emperor to send us to places that grow and use some herbs? Do you have any idea what it's like to eat food without any decent herbs?  What do you think we are, uncivilized? I may be a soldier, but I do have taste buds.

Me, I like biscotti because it's very easy to make, it is sweet but not overwhelmingly so, and it is just perfect for a hot drink like coffee or tea.  It also does last a long time.  But not centuries.


  1. Haha, thanks for the history lesson! :)

    Also... I don't like Terry Pratchet *hides under table*

  2. Ha! No worries, lol. He's definitely not for everyone.

  3. As I was reading this post, I thought of dwarf bread, and then, boom, you mentioned it. We really have to have a Terry fest one of these days. I think there are two kinds of biscotti - the kind that absolutely require a dunk in liquid (preferably hot) to make them edible, and the softer, more forgiving kind that you could actually eat on their own. Yours look yummy!