Did you know that the item we think of as biscotti in the U.S. is the generic term for cookie in Italy? When you go to the grocery store and look at what we would call the cookie isle, you see all kinds of things that we wouldn’t recognize as biscotti; chocolate wafers, sandwich cookies, heart shaped tea biscuits. What we call biscotti is called cantucci or cantuccini here in Florence.
The italian word biscotti means “twice baked”. When you make traditional biscotti (and here I mean the thing we Americans call biscotti), you form cookie dough into a loaf, bake it in the oven until it isn’t quite done, take it out and slice it into individual pieces, and put it back into the oven to be baked again. This gives it that nice crisp, almost toasted consistency that we love to dunk into our Starbucks coffee.
I am sure that the italian word biscotti is related to the British term, biscuit, meaning cookie. I have no idea how we started calling the doughy, bready dinner or breakfast item that we often serve with gravy, a biscuit.
Most intriguing of all perhaps… Where on earth did we get the word cookie?