There's a time and a place for biscotti, and when the moment's right it's great to know how to make a batch. They are the perfect pairing for coffee or tea&mdash when you want a little something sweet but you're not quite in the mood for a sugary cookie or other dessert. Biscotti are both easy to package without breaking and extremely shelf stable, making them a thoughtful and pretty homemade gift or cookie jar staple.
The word biscotti comes from Latin roots that mean "twice cooked or baked", which describes the process that makes them unique. Biscotti take two turns through the oven: a first time with the dough formed into a long, narrow loaf, and a second with the loaf cut into slices, placed on a wire rack, and baked until crisp.
When making biscotti, here are a few basics to keep in mind:
- Avoid overworking the dough, or the biscotti will be tough
- Be sure to use a serrated knife when cutting the biscotti before the second bake
- Use an oven-safe cooling rack to ensure even baking on both sides
- Allow the biscotti to cool completely before storing
For a complete tutorial, click through the slide show. Then head on over to these recipes for Chocolate Peanut and Maple Walnut Biscotti—you can enjoy them now, or save them for a rainy afternoon.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.