Friday, April 15, 2011


Biscotti Picnik collage 1 bis
"Biscotti" (pronounced "bee-scoat-tee") are relatively new to me. Actually, a few years ago (about 6 years ago) I had no clue what they were. That is quite understandable if you consider the fact that I've lived all my life in Switzerland and never travelled to Italy (I passed through that country when going to Greece, but I doubt that this can qualify for holidays) nor to America where this speciality is widespread...

I was introduced to these Italian cookies when I received James McNair and Andrew Moore's "Afternoon Delights" for my birthday in 2003. It was love at first sight. The very second I lay my eyes on the picture that illustrated their "Almond Biscotti" recipe I knew that I had to bake them immediately in order to satisfy my curiosity. Since then I have not seized being a big fan of this crispy treat.

Before I moved away from home and started cooking for myself, I had never really tasted any Italian pastry apart from "Amaretti Macaroons" and knew absolutely nothing about "Biscotti". Here in Switzerland, the only biscuits that can be compared to them are oven-dried brioche slices called "Zwiebacks".
Although they taste more like sweet bread than cookies and are far from being as sweet or having an identical shape, I always enjoyed eating those delicious rusks.

The reason why I like "Biscotti" so much is because they remind me of "Zwiebacks" and bring back memories of my Vaudois Pépé & Mémé (grandpa & grandma) whom I lost long ago - my granny died at the age of 92 in 1992 and my granddad passed away at the age of 98
in 1998.

I will never forget the times my parents and I visited my grandparents in Champvent. Since we had no car, getting there was a real journey and it was so exciting for the kid I was. After having rode on the InterCity for a good 45 minutes we then arrived in the little city of Yverdon-les-Bains where we hopped on the cute scenic Yverdon-Sainte-Croix train which I was really fond of the bumpity bump sound that the wheels made and adored it's haunting hoots. This filled me with intense pleasure and send shivers down my spine. As it rushed speedily through the lush countryside (it was going so fast that we had to hold on tight to the bars), went through thick and dark forests and stopped in dainty stations, I could not have been a more happier girl. I felt like an adventurer on a mission in a far away land. This feeling grew even stronger when we stepped out of the train in the middle of nowhere in Essert-sous-Champvent. Our trip hadn't ended exactly. This location was situated at least 20 minutes by foot from our destination which meant that we still had to take a 2 kilometers hike through the fields in order to arrive in the village and finally step a foot in my grandparents' house.

In the good old days (in the 90's - that makes me sound old, I know...), Switzerland was a safe place to live and nobody used to lock themselves in (it is still quite secure, but not as much as before - now we have our share of extreme violence too). In the rural areas people even left their front door wide open during the summer. So, to enter my grandparents house there was no need to ring the doorbell or knock. We simply stepped in the corridor and were immediately welcomed by an ethereal smell of food and went straight to the kitchen where my grandmother, who was a brilliant cook, was preparing our 100% homemade lunch which generally consisted of a seasonal soup (onion soup, nettle soup, potato soup, etc...), a salad (homegrown lettuce or hand-picked dandelion leaves), either a stew ("Lapin A La Crème"/Rabbit in Sour Cream & Mustard Sauce - the rabbits were raised and butchered by my grandfather) a "rôti" (roast) or a "bouilli" (beef from which bouillon or soup has been made) and meringues with thick golden cream scraped from the top of the milk basin (until the 90's my grandparents bought all their cheese, milk and butter from the village dairy - just like in the past), canned sour cherries and Kirsch (I had that too and loved it eventhough I was a child. As you can see it didn't turn me into an alcoholic or kill me...).

After lunch both my grandparents had the habit of napping for about one hour after each meal (was it the key to their longevity?) and then getting on with their daily chores (housework and taking care of the garden). Generally, while they were working, we went out for long walks around the area which is considered to be Vaud's "granary" and abound in walking excursions as well as picturesque villages with Medieval manor houses and castles. The rustic Gros-de-Vaud landscapes are delightfully pastoral, so soft and inviting.

Biscotti Picnik collage 4 bis
When we came back, we were always greeted by either a "Salée A La Crème" or a "Gâteau" (people in Vaud commonly use the term "Gâteaux" to describe "Tarts") made with homegrown fruits (berries of all kinds - check out my "Blackberry Tart", apples and rhubarb - not a fruit, I know). Our little trip had made us extremely hungry, so those freshly baked and mindblowingly ambrosial delicacies were accepted with much enthusiasm. My grandmother's pastries were some of the best I have ever eaten. My Mémé was an extraordinary homecook and baker who made amazing dishes from scratch, prepared to most gorgeous family-style "Cuisine Bourgeoise" (pronounce "kwee zeen boor jwaz" - it refers to plain, but good down-to-earth cuisine), taught my 20 years old mother the basics of cooking/baking and showed her how to put a meal together.

My grandmother might not have been a woman who expressed her feelings, but she was always generous when it came to filling our stomachs. I cannot recall having ever starved while staying at my gradparents' home. I guess it was her way of showing that she cared for us. As we all know, "love goes through the stomach"...

Sometimes, if I was craving more food in the afternoon, my grandmother gave me a few "Zwiebacks" to nibble on. Those were generally eaten for breakfast in place of bread, but as a child I preferred to snack on them.
Since then, that item is closely linked to that period of my life.

So, in addition to awaking memories of my Mémé, "Biscotti" are nooks which also remind me of the Renaissance. I like to imagine that noble women and men dressed fashionably with romantic-looking custumes made of rich fabrics (silk, velvet and muslim) sat on their terrasses overlooking the fluid green hills of Tuscany and chattered courteously while dipping their crunchy crullers in Vin Santo. Just like the scene in a Botticelli fresco!


"Biscotti" are also known as "Cantuccini" or "Biscotti Di Prato". They are supposed to hail from the city of Prato in Italy (similar cookies exist in France - "Croquignole" - and Spain - "Carquinyoli" -) and their name comes from the Medieval latin word "biscoctus" meaning "twice-baked/cooked". It seems that hundreds of years before being consumed by sailors and adventurers in the 15th century (both Marco Polo and Columbus are supposed to have brought "Biscotti" with them on their journeys), they were already being eaten by the Roman Legions. They were enjoyed by travellers of all kinds is because they had good keeping properties (they lasted for a long while without going bad).

At the origin, those crullers were flavored with aniseeds, but nowadays, many sweet and savory variants exist (chocolate, candied fruits, pumpkin, raisins/currants, dried cranberries, cheese, olives, herbs, nuts of all kinds, different types of flour, etc...). "Biscotti" are very popular in their country of birth, but are also much appreciated by cookie lovers all over Europe and the USA. Recently, they have become very trendy and it is not difficult to buy them from bakers, coffee shops or supermarkets anymore. Although they are all generally rocklike in texture, it is to be said that some of them vary in rigidity. The Italian "Biscotti" are harder and denser than their American cousins which are lighter are more tender, thus still being appropriate for dipping.

The recipe I have decided to publish today was adapted
from "The Cookies Companion" by King Arthur Flour. Having not tested that many different "Biscotti" as I tend to use the same recipe over and over and being somebody who is an amateur of spices, I thought that a little change in the routine might be good, so it is all naturally that I was drawn towards KAF's "Italian-Style Cinnamon And Raisin Biscotti".

Despite the fact that one has to have healthy teeth to bite into this confection and feels a little like a horse champing on dry bread when masticating on it, it is nonethelss terribly addictive. The dreamlike aromas of cinnamon and vanilla blend perfectly well with the molassy flavor of the rasins, thus making those lightly sweet "Biscotti" extremely palatable.

A fabulous breakfast, teatime or evening treat that must be on every Easter table, especially if they are dunked into warm melted chocolate!

Biscotti Picnik collage 7 bis
~ Italian-Style Cinnamon & Raisin Biscotti ~
Recipe adapted from
"The Cookies Companion" by King Arthur Flour.

Makes about 14-16 biscotti.

2 Large eggs

2/3 Cup (143g) Castor sugar

1/2 Tsp Baking powder
3/4 Tsp Fine sea salt
1 Tsp Pure bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)

2 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1 Cup (160g) Raisins
2 Cups (255g) Unbleached all purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350°F) and lightly grease a baking sheet (or line with parchment or a silicon mat).
2. In a medium bowl, mix the cinnamon, raisins and flour together. Set aside
3. Combine the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean paste in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light in color and falls back into the bowl in ribbons if you lift up the beater blade.
4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and gradually add in the flour. M
ix just until the flour is fully incorporated.
5. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and shape it into a flat loaf (14 inches/35cm long and 2.5 inches/6cm large).

Biscotti Picnik collage 2 bis
6.Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 170° C (325° F).
7. Allow the baked loaf to cool for about 15 minutes.
8. Mist the loaf lightly with water and let it rest for another 5 minutes (this will help to prevent it from cracking/crumbling when slicing).
9. Once the loaf has rested, transfer it to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice the biscotti (diagonally to produce long biscotti or horizentally if you want smaller biscotti).
10. Return the slices to the baking sheet (standing up) and bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes.
11. Transfer the slices to a wire rack and let cool completely.

You can replace the raisins by other dried fruits or nuts (chopped coarsely).
If you wish, subsitute the cinnamon with any other spice of your choice.

Serving suggestions:
Eat for breakfast, teatime or as an in-between snack and accompany with a good capuccino, espresso, a small glass of Vin Santo or Porto.
You can also dunk them in melted chocolate.


Biscotti Picnik collage 6 bis
~ Biscotti Italiens A La Cannelle Et Aux Raisins Secs ~
Recette adaptée du livre "The Cookies Companion" par King Arthur Flour.

Pour 14-16 biscotti.

2 Gros oeufs

143g Sucre cristallisé
1/2 CC de Poudre à lever
3/4 CC de Sel de mer fin
1 CC de Pâte de vanille pure (ou d'extrait de vanille pure)
2 CC de Cannelle en poudre
160g de Raisins secs
255g de Farine blanche


1. Préchauffer le four à 180° C et recouvrir une plaque de cuisson avec du papier sulfurisé ou avec un silpat.
2. Dans un bol moyen, mélanger ensemble la cannelle, les raisins et la farine. Mettre de côté.
3. Dans le bol d'un robot électrique réunir les oeufs, le sucre, la poudre à lever, le sel et la vanille. Battre à vitesse moyenne afin que le mélange soit pâle et retombe en rubans si on soulève le batteur.
4. Réduire la vitesse et ajouter la farine petit à petit. Mélanger (pas trop) jusqu'à ce que la farine soit complètement incorporée.

5. Mettre la pâte sur la plaque de cuisson et former en un rectangle de 35cm long et de 6cm de large.
6. Cuire pendant 25 minutes, puis sortir du four et réduire la température à 170° C.

Biscotti Picnik collage 5 bis
7. Laisser le "pain" refroidir pendant environ 15 minutes.
8. Pulvériser de l'eau et le laisser reposer encore pendant 5 minutes supplémentaires (cela empêche le "pain" de craquer et de s'émietter pendant la découpe).
9. Une fois ce temps de repos respecté, placer le "pain" sur une planche à découper et couper en tranches avec un couteau bien éguisé (en diagonal pour obtenir des biscotti longs ou tel un cake/horizentalement si on désire des tranches plus courtes).
10. Placer les tranches sur la plaque (debout et pas couchées) et cuire pendant encore 20 – 25 minutes.
11. Faire refroidir complètement les tranches sur une grille métallique.

Vous pouvez remplacer les raisins par d'autres fruits secs ou des noix (coupés en morceaux grossiers).
Si vous le désirez, il vous est possible de remplacer la cannelle par l'épice (en poudre) de votre choix.

Idées de présentation:
Servir ces biscotti pour le déjeuner, à l'heure du thé ou comme en-cas et accompagner d'un capuccino, d'un espresso, d'un petit verre de Vin Santo ou de Porto.
Il vous est aussi possible de les tremper dans du chocolat fondu encore tiède.

Biscotti Picnik collage 3 bis


  1. Heavenly! Very nice post Rosa, and great photos! My mom is like your grandma, and so is my aunt, all they do is fill the table with food all the time when we visit, and just go like: "Eat, eat", all the time... Such darlings; it's a lovely way to love and care! Cheers!

  2. Die sehen fantastisch aus!

  3. J'aime tout dans ce billet, l'histoire, les photos suggestives...magnifique!

  4. Bravissima come sempre e biscotti dal profumo delizioso :)

    buon we!

  5. Une superbe gourmandise aux arômes que j'adore !

  6. Love it, These sound so good. I don't eat many treats with raisins, everyone in my house hates them. I really love all of your pictures, they are so vibrant yet soft. I'm still struggling with my photography. Its tricky. The saucer and cup are so adorable.

  7. Rosa, these look so perfect! What a beautiful post! xx

  8. My brain does not consider biscotti to be biscuit/cookie even though the ingredients and procedures are similar. I tried to convince my brain otherwise but I have failed. Maybe its the shape of the biscotti?

  9. Great suggestion to dunk them in melted chocolate.
    Lovely childhood memories.
    Awesome work ♥

  10. oh how can i ressist such a gorgeous staple, wishing I had some of these Rosa. Have a nice weekend.

  11. It was a beautifully worded post, enjoyed every bit of it. Your visit to ur grandparents' place was sounding as if it is clipped from a movie, awesome. Would love to visit that part of the world sometime. Biscotti looks very professional and perfect. Bookmarked and would love to give it a try. Thanks for sharing :):)

  12. They look marvelous! Perfect for weekend treat.

  13. I ADORE your lovely spring photos, Rosa. So bright and green. :-)

  14. J'adore les biscotti italiens qui ressemble un peu au croquants aux amandes que l'on trouve dans le sud de la France. En plus de se conserver longtemps, c'est délicieux ! Et j'aime beaucoup aussi ton mélange de photos des biscuits et des paysages du coin ! Un vrai plaisir !!

  15. lovely words of your family, a stunning treat!!


  16. Biscotti is something I wanna try to make one day soon. Yours look yummy as always.

  17. Beauty Rosa! I adore biscotties and these look amazing, love with raisins, bookmarked, Have a nice weekend, gloria

  18. Hmm the biscottis are slightly thick! They look like bread to me. :) But it's not a bad thing. This means you get to eat more!

  19. Dear Rosa,

    The biscotti are looking gorgeous and loved your write up too. Have a great day !

  20. Je t'en volerais bien un ou deux tellement ils ont l'air bons! Bon week-end!

  21. Great post! Biscotti's are just one of those heavenly cookies. Yours look supreme. Enjoy your weekend.

  22. Those look absolutely perfect and your photos are sigh-worthy, as always. Thanks for sharing :)

  23. un vrai régal dont on ne connaît pas la recette, donc merci ! quel bon moment passé ici à chaque fois !

  24. Hummm ! Ces biscuits doivent être à tomber !!! :)

  25. Scrumptious biscotti. I love them with a cup of Greek coffee.

  26. Lovely! Perfect to dunk in a cup of tea!

  27. I love biscotti but have never made them. Yours look lovely. Your photographs as always are gorgeous x

  28. I had my first biscotti in the late 80's in a cafe in Toronto. It was a new thing then and I fell in love too:D

  29. Rosa, this biscotti looks absolutely perfect

  30. Lovely biscotti flavor Rosa.

  31. Hi Rosa,

    I love biscottis..These look so beautiful and delicious..Awesome combination of ingredients..Loved the recipe and the pictures..Thanks!

  32. I am actually eating a biscotti as we speak.. Haha.. Love those little cookies but have never attempted them myself!

  33. Un joli billet, dense et émouvant. Merci Rosa!

  34. Rosa, you knew that I always love the pictures that you're sharing and recipes that we're looking forward for. Another great post! Happy weekend to you.
    Blessings, Kristy

  35. Oh! Like my favorite breakfast bread in biscotti form. Love this =).

  36. Cinnamon and raisin -- Delicious! I love your nature shots!

  37. I love biscotti and these looks beautiful, Rosa! They sound wonderful...will try to make!


  38. Breath-Taking, Rosa! The perfect treat for any time of the day! Love this biscotti. Beautiful memories :)

    Have a wonderful weekend,


  39. These biscottis may not be strictly traditional but they look so perfect and beautiful and the photos of the Spring landscape is so captivating, it transports you to a dreamy place far have a gift not only for making exquisite pastries but also for capturing a mood.

  40. You make me laugh Rosa when you write "horse champing on dry bread" !...
    It's true that you can find easily biscotti nowadays, but I've never tried to bake some. One more on the to do list..

  41. i don't love biscotti, but if i'm gonna partake, there had better be copious cinnamon involved! :)

  42. ciao Rosa your biscotti are so inviting ! In Italy biscotti are simply any cookies and we call these cantucci or cantuccini.
    I love your nice nap story !

  43. Che belli! Gorgeous! Brava!


  44. There's something about biscotti...I love pretty nearly all kinds. This is the first "breakfast" biscotti I've seen. Can't wait to try it, Rosa!
    Love the stories about your grandparents. I think my children's generation is the last one where doors could be left open for the milkman etc. It's sad, but the more recent generations probably don't notice the change.

  45. Gotta tell you, I used to dislike biscotti. Never used to get the twice baked hard texture - now I think they are fabulous! Great recipe Rosa.

  46. Oh I've been thinking about biscotti this whole weekend and almost made the almond ones! Mmmm I think I might give this a go but substituting raisins with, cranberries maybe... Thanks for the inspiration and lovely recipe ;)

  47. Well you're not kidding about needing healthy teeth to bite into these babies! Your pictures are gorgeous, as always. Looks awesome!

  48. It's lovely to hear those memories of that special time with your grandparents and I'd never heard of nostalgia for Zwieback but why not? I've only recently discovered biscotti since there weren't any around in Derbyshire when I was growing up but now they're a firm favourite of mine. Yours are just perfect and must make tatime even more special at your house.

  49. Those sound and look wonderful. The photos are completely beautiful, too. Putting raisins in biscotti is a genius idea :)

  50. A classic cookie that one can eat over and over again. ;)

  51. Huuuuuuuuuuummmmmmm... oh ça me plaît ! Bises.

  52. I enjoyed reading your post to the very end. YOu made me miss my mum's parents- my grandmother in particular. SHe was an amazing cook too.
    Biscottis are my family's favourites. I have made the almond, walnut and the chocolate versions of the same. I shall definitely try making your version as well. The photos, as always are stunning

  53. oh my goodness, zwiebacks. flashbacks like whoa. <3

  54. Your biscotti look awesome! I've been obsessed by biscotti in the past few weeks, but my 3 attempts did not fullfill my expectations... Will try your recipe!
    Your post is so nicely written with these sweet memories of your mémé & pépé, they brought back lots of happy memories to me, the salée à la crème, being the yummiest of all :-)

  55. You know Rosa, I think I may have been pronouncing "biscotti" wrong, all these years. But, being Spanish always gives me an out.

    Your Biscotti looks delicious! I love to dunk this Italian cookie in espresso, and sometimes, wine. But, I never thought of dunking it in melted chocolate.
    Why didn't you tell me this before?!

  56. I loved your post. The pictures and the biscottis are wonderful.

  57. these biscotti look delicious, although I think I'll omit the cinnamon...not a big fan of it..but I think they will be just as good!
    What a delightful reminiscent story too..

  58. Rosa,

    Lovely post. And your photos are so calm and relaxing. This was the perfect way to start the week.

    The biscotti, look good, too! :)

  59. These sound great. Cinnamon and Raisins, dipped into my coffee, yum!!! :)

  60. I loved reading about your grandparents. They had a wonderful life together, and the food sounds amazing! Your biscotti look fantastic as well.

  61. I have a quiet similar Italian recipe from the mother of a Italian friend but with hazelnuts.
    It is fun that the same kind of cookies exists in France and Spain this is food interculturality (I don't if this word is a proper English word;o))
    However If I prepare tea or coffee would you come with some of those marvellous cake.

  62. This was another lovely post about family and finding new traditions. I grew up eating my grandmothers almond anise biscotti so I know the delicious you are talking about with biscotti in general. Your recipe looks fabulous.

  63. J'aime bien les biscottis et je n'ai pas encore essayé cette sorte. Que de belles photos.

  64. I am dunking them in chocolate for sure ;)

    Lovely post, lovely pics and lovely write up.

  65. Amazing... I love biscottis too! Yours look awesome!

  66. I'm such a fan of your photography, and more envy not only your baking skills( which is top notch) but also your surroundings. You are around so much beauty. Someday I would love to come visit :-)

  67. Très jolis ces biscottis!
    Parfaits avec une tasse de thé!

  68. Je ne connais pas les biscotti depuis longtemps, en France l'équivalent serait des croquants aux amandes (sud-ouest) dont la recette et le procédé sont similaires au biscotti italien.

  69. Perfectly beautiful, as always.

  70. How come I didn't see this post earlier? Lucky I double checked the update from the dashboard.
    I always love Italian twice baked cookies. Those look wonderfully delicious.

  71. The "champing on dry bread" type of biscottis are the ones that I'll only have if there's a cup of comforting warmth to dip them in. In truth, my very favourite texture is a notch below that hardness.

    Rosa, this post was darling. It reminded me of my Nonna from Italy who somewhat showed her generousity through food and not necessarily hugs. Love does come in so many ways...and mine came caloricly ;o)

    Thanks for dessert and a beautiful shot of Spring.

    Flavourful wishes,

  72. I would love some biscotti right now. Yours look perfect - especially with a coffee or hot chocolate.

  73. I am craving this now. this would be perfect with a cup of creamy hot milk coffee. delicious

  74. Ohh- they look SOOOO PERFECT! My hubby loves biscotti and I will bookmark this recipe- thanks for sharing Rosa..
    US Masala

  75. Your childhood adventures to your grandparents sounds like SO MUCH FUN! Such an idyllic time - so glad you have those memories of what life should be like!

  76. Très joli billet et délicieuse recette!!

  77. I love biscotti! Lovely post and lovely words. Such talent you have!

  78. i can't think of a time when i've seen raisins in biscotti before--great idea! lovely images of some fine cookies. :)

  79. Un billet très comptet. Bon boulot Rosa.

  80. Rosa, the de pate is the vanilla paste? Which do you suggest, paste, or?

  81. I'm a biscotti addict...Yours look delicious!! and the photos? I'm considering moving...

  82. I love how you started this post with : the sould of Italy captured in a cookie.

    To me, that is biscotti.

  83. i love love love biscottis!
    one of the recipes i always use for them is this one...

    it's absolutely delish!