Thursday, 22 September 2011

Biscotti History

The Biscotti recipe 'Brown Sugar Almond Biscotti' on further investigation I have discovered is in actual fact a variation of Biscotti. Named Carquinyoli these are found in the Spanish regions of Catalonia and Aragon.  In Valencia this style of Carquinyoli are named Rosegons.  The main difference seems that Carquinyoli uses whole or sliced almonds and is cut thinely where as Biscotti is cut into thick slices.  In Italy Biscotti are also known as Nooks and Cantuccini.  It seems every region has a similar style of Biscotti with various names.

'Carquinyoli' Spanish style Biscotti
Biscotti originates from the Italian town of Prato in Tuscany, the full name of this version of Biscotti is Biscotti di Prato.  Biscotto (the plural word for Biscotti) derives from the medieval latin word biscoctus which means twiced-cooked/baked.  Which of course refers to the style in which the dough is cooked once then sliced and baked again to become dry and crisp.  This drying out process allowed the biscotti to last for long periods of time which I guess was the first signs of convenience foods which had a long shelf life.

  A manuscript was discovered in the eighteenth century by scholar Baldanzi Amadio, in this manuscript which was centuries old a recipe for a twice baked cake was documented and this was the origins of the Biscotti recipe. The original traditional recipe consisted only of  flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts and almonds.  No baking powder nor essences where used.

Almonds
In Italy traditionally Biscotti is served with Vin Santo, which is an Italian dessert wine.  In Spain Carquinyoli are also served with a local dessert wine such as Muscat or Moscatell. Traditionally the Biscotti or Carquinyoli can be dunked into the wine then eaten.  A modern take on serving Biscotti is with various styles of coffees such as capaccino.

Modern styles of Biscotti now add various flavours, pistachios, pecan nuts, orange zest and they are sometimes dipped in chocolate.  When traveling through Spain or Italy Biscotti or the local variation can be found in the biscuit section of the supermarket.  The Biscotti is amazingly hard so you need good teeth and is definitely best dipped into coffee or sweet wine to soften.

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