Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I remember biscotti as being those gigantic funny-shaped cookies in coffee shops that nobody ever bought. I was introduced to a better biscotti when I took my first job in New York as a pastry assistant in an Italian restaurant over 11 years ago. It was there that I found the smaller and more thinly sliced biscotti, served with the traditional accompaniment – a glass of Vin Santo, a sweet Italian dessert wine. Since then I have made biscotti on more than a few occasions, but never had given it much thought until now.
For some reason I had the urge to make a batch the other day. Maybe it was the gray rain that reminded me of back home, but I felt like having something to dip into my fourth cup of coffee. I whipped up a small batch using my basic recipe, plus some coconut, dried mango, and a bit of Chinese five spice powder just for fun. It was very satisfying and perfect for dipping into a hot beverage or snacking on its own, but I think I will omit the mango next time, as its chewiness canceled out some of the biscotti’s crispness. They also seem to be one of the more versatile forms of cookie, in that they can become a vehicle for just about any conceivable flavor…which means that I’ll probably be headed back to the kitchen to try a new flavor soon.