Let’s talk biscotti.
If you google the word “biscotti” you will see everyone saying that the word “biscotti” means twice baked – and that’s true, but if you ask an Italian about real biscotti, they actually use the word to refer to any biscuits…or cookies, not just the twice baked popular long, slightly arched, crunchy biscotti that we associate with the word.
Speaking of word association…what on earth is the difference between a biscuit and a cookie? I actually asked my fellow bloggers their opinion and the general consensus was that the British use the word biscuits and North Americans use the word cookies. A little more investigation into the matter led us to the extra consensus that biscuits are crunchy and cookies are chewy. This needed some more clarification…so I did my mini-investigations (ie. google) and here’s what I’ve found.
The word biscuit was originally coined from the Latin word “biscotum (panem)”, which means bread ‘twice baked’, which would explain the hard, crunchy quality of a British biscuit. (yes that “twice baked” thing again). The word cookie comes from the Dutch word “koekje” meaning “little cake”. Cookies were described as soft, squishy, moist biscuits (for lack of a better word) and the word is used in both the UK and North America with slightly different connotations. British cookies tend to be bigger and more dense than what is generally understood to be a typical British biscuit. In North America, the word encompasses both the British “biscuit” and the British “cookie” (information from the Oxford Dictionary Blog).
After the great biscuit vs cookie blogger debate, some examples to clarify were necessary. We all agreed that a chewy chocolate chip cookie is truly a cookie, whereas shortbread, for example was a biscuit. Biscotti (as normally understood) is a biscuit. Bourbon creams and Jammy dodgers are biscuits. The American biscuit that you eat with gravy (mmm Cracker Barrel) is acceptably called a biscuit if in North America, but otherwise should be considered a scone (this one I disagree with…I think it’s a type of bread maybe – cause I think it has more lamination than a scone and is just lighter and fluffier than a scone). We are still arguing about the coconut macaroon because I believe it’s a cookie while the British bloggers think that it’s not classified either as a cookie nor a biscuit. I disagree because I believe the only one that can be described on its own is the french macaron (and yes there is a difference between a macaroon and a macaron! I detailed that difference in this blog #petpeeve alert!). Oh, and with that, I am designating the undisputed Jaffa cake to be a cookie – because it is indeed a “little cake” – the very definition of the word cookie … (so there! *lol*).
Anyway, the point is that the Great British Bake Off 2015 Week 2 was focused on biscuits – in the British sense of the term – and this blog is focusing on biscotti – in the english understanding of the “twice baked” cookie that we all know and love to dunk in a hot cup of tea of coffee. I’ve always wanted to make biscotti, and have no real excuse as to why I’ve never done it before. It really is an easy cookie to make – just mix the ingredients, chuck in the oven, take out and let cool a bit, cut, chuck in the oven again, let cool a little and then scarf down. Seriously. That’s the method. Go find your own ingredients. Just kidding, I will give you a recipe…after blagging on a little more.
For this week’s challenge, I decided to go with biscotti, but not just one, but THREE flavours of biscotti. This is because I didn’t want to choose…and trust me, choosing three flavours from all the possibilities out there was difficult in itself. I eventually tried to represent a few of my interests. Firstly, I had walnuts left over from last week and a whole lotta maple syrup from my trip to Canada in April. So, as a shout out to my Canucks, I had to try a maple walnut version. The second one was inspired by my long time love and recent foray into Mediterranean and North African recipes – I ended up with pistachio and rosewater…and think that if I’m doing them again I may add a touch of saffron in there somewhere. The third represents my recent favourite flavours, orange and dark chocolate, and in the last minute I decided to throw a little cardamom in there (mainly because I wanted to make a chai flavoured one but could not decide…and all the research recipes I did had orange and cardamom anyway).
I will be honest. They all look amazing. They don’t all taste amazing. Luckily, I used three different recipes as base recipes so I know which one I think you would love the most…and that’s the recipe I’ve included below. The maple walnut needs A LOT more work (I’m sorry Canucks, I tried!)….the pistachio and rosewater is yummy but the orange cardamom is absolutely amazing and my definite favourite….. In the end, any biscotti can be made with the base recipe from the orange and cardamom biscotti recipe below by removing the orange zest and cardamom and substituting different flavourings. Do keep in mind that I personally like a slightly chewier biscotti – I don’t love the crunchy and extremely hard biscotti that is considered to be “perfect”……. because as much as a biscuit or cookie should have a little crunch, in the end I don’t want to have to work that hard just for a bite of biscuit or cookie goodness.
This post is part of the Great Blogger Bake Off 2015. If you liked this recipe, please also check out my bake from week 1 – a White Forest Cake.