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With cooler weather comes hot beverages. And what goes better with your favorite cup of brew than a delicious biscotti cookie? Crunchy and flavorful, these treats are unique compared to most of their traditional cookie cousins. They have a fascinating and little known history.

“Biscotti” is actually the plural form of biscotto. The word biscotto derives from “bis,” Latin for twice, and “coctum” or baked (which became “cotto,” or cooked). It originated in Rome as a convenience food for travelers rather than a pleasurable treat for leisurely diners. Unleavened dough with little to no fat was made into finger-like shapes and baked. They were then baked a second time to draw off any remaining moisture, and when done, it resulted in a hard, dry texture, with a very long shelf life making them durable for travel and nourishment for the long journeys of the Roman army.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 455 C.E, the country was repeatedly sacked by the Visigoths, the Vandals and other peoples. The people did their best to survive; there was no culinary development. But with the Renaissance, cuisine also flowered. Biscotti re-emerged in Tuscany, credited to a Tuscan baker who served them with the local sweetwine. Their dry, crunchy texture was deemed to be the perfect medium to soak up the wine. The cookie was originally flavored with almonds from the plentiful  groves of Prato and while some modern day biscotti still contain almonds, there are now dozens of flavor variations.  Most European countries have adopted their own version of biscotti. The British have rusks; the French, biscotte andcroquets de carcassonne; Germans,zwieback; Greeks, biskota andpaxemadia; Jews, mandelbrot; and Russians, sukharik.

These grain-free biscotti give a nod back to their Italian roots using almond meal as the base. I’ve created 3 flavor versions using the same basic recipe; Cranberry Orange, Lemon Blueberry and Chocolate Cherry. These sticks of deliciousness are not only grain-free, but vegan as well. So make a cup of your favorite hot drink and dip some biscotti!

Cranberry Orange Biscotti:

IMG_3916Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pecans
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt and baking soda
  2. Pulse until ingredients are well combined
  3. Pulse in syrup and orange zest until the dough forms a ball
  4. Remove dough from food processor and work in cranberries and pecans with your hands
  5. Form dough into 2 logs on a parchment lined baking sheet
  6. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool for 1 hour
  7. Cut the logs into ½ inch slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife
  8. Spread slices out on a baking sheet and bake at 300° for 12-15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool, set, and become crispy

 

Lemon Blueberry Biscotti:

IMG_3954Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup dried blueberries
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine almond flour, arrowroot powder, salt and baking soda
  2. Pulse until ingredients are well combined
  3. Pulse in syrup and lemon zest until the dough forms a ball
  4. Remove dough from food processor and work in blueberries with your hands
  5. Form dough into 2 logs on a parchment lined baking sheet
  6. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool for 1 hour
  7. Cut the logs into ½ inch slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife
  8. Spread slices out on a baking sheet and bake at 300° for 12-15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool, set, and become crispy

 

 

Chocolate Cherry Biscotti:

IMG_3986Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries-chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine almond flour, arrowroot powder, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda
  2. Pulse until ingredients are well combined
  3. Pulse in maple syrup until the dough forms a ball
  4. Remove dough from food processor and work in cherries and walnuts with your hands
  5. Form dough into 2 logs on a parchment lined baking sheet
  6. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and cool for 1 hour
  7. Cut the logs into ½ inch slices on the diagonal with a very sharp knife
  8. Spread slices out on a baking sheet and bake at 300° for 12-15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool, set, and become crispy

 

IMG_4119

 

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