Tammy Algood | Special to The Tennessean
February begs for time to sit with a hot cup of something. Whether it’s coffee, tea or mulled wine, we need the warmth it brings to our insides and just holding the cup is comforting. But along with that comes the need for just a little something to nibble on while you relax. Biscotti couldn’t be more perfect for the job.
Biscotti is a gift to us from the Veneto region of Italy. The texture of this “cookie” is hard due to the way it is double baked. But that texture is what makes it ideal for dipping into warm beverages and enjoying at a leisurely pace.
The name comes from biscuit and these intensely crunchy snacks were originally made for travelers. They had a long shelf life and didn’t need to be cared for like softer treats or breads. And that shelf life makes it ideal for a weekend baking project even today.
Traditional recipes flavor them with slivers of almonds, but there are recipes galore to fit anything you are craving. That includes everything from hazelnuts to anise seeds to dried fruits to chocolate to Kahlua. The ingredients are mixed, then shaped into small loaves (usually 9×2 inches) then baked for half an hour.
It comes out of the oven, cooled slightly, then sliced diagonally with a serrated knife just as you would bread. The slices are placed back on the baking sheet and returned to the oven for another 10 minutes of baking, flipping halfway through. That second trip to the oven is what gives the biscotti the crunchy texture that is desired.
Some actually prefer soft biscotti, which is not returned to the oven and it is delicious. But there is nothing like that harder consistency that is so lovely when dipped into that warm beverage.
You asked for it
Wendy Roberts of Shreveport writes: I made my own marzipan and have had fun with it. But my recipe made more than I can use. What is the best way to store the leftover?
Place it in a zip-top bag and press out as much air as possible. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. When you are ready to use it, allow it to return to room temperature (around 30 minutes), then knead it a bit before shaping.
Tammy Algood is the author of five cookbooks and can be seen on “Volunteer Gardener” on PBS stations in Tennessee. Follow her at www.hauteflavor.com.