History of Biscotto:
Biscotti was originally made as a”long-shelf-life” food (very dry and containing no fats) for travelers and was carried by the Roman Legions to battle. Today’s biscotti are a far cry from the original, and have become a popular accompaniment to espresso, cappuccino and a in its classic varieties with Vin Santo.
Though this popular Italian cookie traces its origins to Roman times, modern biscotti are associated with the Tuscan region of Italy.
The Roman biscotti were more about convenience food for travelers rather than a pleasurable treat for leisurely diners. Unleavened, finger-shaped wafers were baked first to cook them, then a second time to completely dry them out, making them durable for travel and nourishment for long journeys.
The second trip to the oven draws off moisture, and when done to the extreme results in a hard, dry texture, with a very long shelf life.
So much so that Pliny the Elder once boasted “that they would be edible for centuries.”
Note: Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79 AD), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire.
(history from everything-biscotti.com)
1/2 cup baking cocoa
4 ounces Semi-sweet baking bar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, pistachio or almonds, coarsely chopped
1 pkg chocolate chips, melted for dipping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line & lightly grease two cookie sheets. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ground chocolate, and finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla, and stir until well blende; pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients; beat with mixer on medium speed until a dough forms; fold in the nuts; divide the dough into four equal parts; on the prepared cookie sheets, using lightly floured hands, shape each portion into 1 1/4″ by 10″ logs; place the logs at least 4 inches apart; bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch; let cool on the cookie sheets for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle; lower the oven temperature to 300ºF; transfer one log to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut into twelve 1-inch-wide cookies. Repeat with the remaining three logs. Remove one oven rack and place the 48 cookies directly on it. Return the rack to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp. (To test for doneness, remove one cookie; let it cool, then check for crispness) Transfer the cookies from the oven rack to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. *optional: melt chocolate chips in shallow bowl; dip half of the biscotti into chocolate and set back on rack to dry. You can also drizzle the chocolate onto tops of biscotti. Store at room temperature in a tightly covered container or ziplock bags. share, dunk & enjoy ~ v