Do you know what I’ve really been enjoying lately? A hot cup of espresso with a fresh biscotti. There is just something about rich, smooth, full-bodied Italian espresso juxtaposed with a crunchy, lightly flavored biscotti. This month I’m featuring Biscotti con Limone as my Recipe of the Month.
In Italian, the word "biscotto" means "biscuit" or "cookie." More specifically, biscotti are named according to their original method of baking. The root words "bis" and "cotto" literally mean "twice" and "baked." Biscotti is also the generic term for cookies in Italian. When Italians first created biscotti in the region of Tuscany many centuries ago, they were careful to bake the cookies twice, in order to form their unique shape and allow the cookies to develop their signature crisp texture. One of the earliest records dates biscuits back to second century Rome. Back then, ‘biscuits’ were unleavened, hard, thin wafers, which had a low water content. As they contained very little moisture they were the ideal food to store, as they wouldn’t become mouldy quickly.
Early Seamans biscuits, also known as hard tack, probably were the first version of biscotti. They were the perfect food for sailors who were at sea for months at a time on long ocean voyages. The biscuits were thoroughly baked to draw out the moisture, becoming a cracker-like food that that was resistant to mold. Biscotti were a favorite of Christopher Columbus who relied on them on his long sea voyage in the 15th century. Historians believe that the first Italian biscotti were first baked in 13th century Tuscany in the in a city called Prato.
Biscotti are very easy to make, as long as you have the patience to wait for them to bake twice and cool! They are ideal additions to any dessert menu and are especially enjoyable when consumed with coffee, espresso, or dessert wines. Biscotti are also a creative gift alternative and an excellent way to bring a little bit of Italy into your home
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