“Biscotti” is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-cooked/baked.” It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time. Non-perishable food was particularly useful during journeys and wars, and twice baked breads were a staple food of the Roman Legions.
Through Middle French, the word was imported into the English language as “biscuit”, although in English as in Italian “biscuit” does not refer specifically to a twice-baked cookie, but applies to any type of biscuit.
In North America, where “biscuit” has taken on other meanings, twice-baked cookies are known as biscotti.
Today the regional variations of the original are still adhered to, but the modern mass-manufactured biscotti are in actual fact closer to cantuccini, variations of biscotti.
As a result, modern biscotti recipes often contain nuts (traditional almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios) or spices such as anise or cinnamon. Following twice baking (once in long slab form, secondly in cut sliced form), the biscotti may be dipped in a glaze, such as chocolate.
Chocolate Biscotti Recipe:
2/3 cup (4 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 – 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan & set aside. In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar; add vanilla & chocolate mixture. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Divide dough in half. (Add additional chocolate chip morsels if desired.) Form each half into log 3-1/2 inch X 9 inch and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 25 minutes. Reduce oven to 275 degrees F.
Allow ‘logs’ to cool and cut into about 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange on baking sheet and bake additional 20-minutes. Store in air-tight container.