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A plate of biscotti
In North America, biscotti (plural; singular biscotto) are twice-baked cookies also known as cantuccini. Elsewhere, biscotti are also known as biscotti di Prato, bizcochos, cantucci, carquinyolis (sometimes carquinyols), and rosegons. They are most often filled with almonds.

Etymology

The word "biscotti" ( , ) in Italian is the plural form of biscotto and applies to any type of biscuit (in the UK sense of a very dry, hard cookie or cracker). 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. Pliny the Elder boasted that such goods would be edible for centuries. Such nonperishable 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.

In North America, where "biscuit" has taken on other meanings, twice-baked cookies are known as biscotti. In Tuscany, and to some extent also in North America, these cookies are known as cantuccini ("little nooks"). In Italy they are also known widely as biscotti di Pratomarker. In Italy and Spain, yet another name for these cookies is carquinyoli. In Italy, carquinyoli (plural) are typical of Sardinia and Sicily. In Spain, carquinyoli (singular; plural carquinyolis) with whole or sliced almonds are typical of Cataloniamarker and also associated with the regions of Aragonmarker. In Bateamarker, La Fatarellamarker, and Prat de Comtemarker, all inland municipalities of Catalonia, in the Terra Altamarker they are also called carquinyols. Carquinyolis are traditional also in some inland towns in Valenciamarker, where they are called rosegons or rosegós. In Minorcamarker, carquinyols are square shaped and do not include whole almonds.

One Catalan food writer states that carquinyoli is derived from the French croquignole. Croquignole, another name for these biscotti, is a French word of Germanic origin.

Form

Biscotti are twice-baked cookies, often containing nut or spices. Almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and pine nuts are popular choices. Popular spices include anise and cinnamon (used separately).

Biscotti glazed with chocolate
A basic recipe has two parts flour to one part sugar (or less). To this is added baking powder and any spices. Then nuts are added, and tossed to coat them with the flour mixture. Nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts, may be used with their skins on. Then enough eggs are added to just barely hold the dough together. The eggs are first beaten together with any wet flavoring (e.g., almond extract or liquor) until the eggs are well broken.

Traditionally, biscotti are formed by baking the dough in long slabs, cutting these into slices, and baking the slices until they are toasted and dry. The slabs are baked once for about twenty-five minutes. They are then cut up into individual cookies and baked again for a shorter period. The longer this second baking is, the harder the cookies will be.

After the second baking, biscotti may be dipped in a chocolate glaze.

Use

Tuscan-style cantuccini served with vin santo
Being very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink, into which they may be dunked. In Italy they are served typically with vin santo. In North America they more frequently accompany coffee- and espresso-based beverages, including cappuccinos and lattes, or black tea.

Pignoli
In Spain biscotti (carquinyoli) usually are served with a small glass of a sweet dessert wine such as muscat or moscatell.

In Italy, biscotti made with pine nuts rather than almonds may be called pignoli.

Culture

In the Catalonian city Vicmarker, "Carquinyoli" is also the name of a ceremonial figure who orchestrates an annual summer fiesta in honor of the patron saint Albert of Sicily. In Vilanova i la Geltrúmarker, biscotti with almonds are called currutacos and are most typically associated with Palm Sunday, when they are used to ornament the palm leaves that are distributed to worshipers.

Biscotti are much used as an ingredient in a variety of traditional dishes. In Catalonia, such dishes include rice with sardines and rabbit with snails. They are also used in sauces with onions (specifically calçots). In coastal Baix Llobregatmarker, biscotti are used in the sauce for a dish of duck stuffed with turnips.

See also



References

  1. The Origin Of Biscotti. The Nibble, May 2006.
  2. The Perfect BiscottiPublished by mercina on September 29, 2008 - Thursday for Dinner


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