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Biscotti: better once or twice baked?

Biscotti is a type of Italian cookie that, literally translated, means “twice baked.”  The cookie dough is first shaped into a long, oval log and baked as a whole unit the first time.  Then it is sliced into individual pieces which are laid out on cookie sheets and baked a second time to fully dry them out.  Due to its dry texture, biscotti is a favorite for dunking with coffee or tea.

My fellow Pastry Chef and friend Andrew Swartz of Andrew’s Pastries is known for his biscotti; it is one of his signature items.  He told me his secret is to bake the biscotti only one time, not two.  He came upon this discovery purely by accident one day when he simply forgot to bake the biscotti a second time before serving it.  Now he won’t make it any other way, and he has developed loyal wholesale customers far and wide who prefer to serve his biscotti in their coffee shops.

So I decided to try it for myself one day to see which I preferred: once or twice-baked biscotti?  I started with a recipe for Chocolate Cherry & Hazelnut Biscotti that I found in Cooking Light magazine and modified it slightly for the ingredients I had on hand.

I made 2 logs of dough and baked one log just one time, allowed it to cool, and cut it into individual slices.  The second log I baked the traditional way: sliced and baked a second time.

This is what I found: the cookie dough was so chocolatey and rich that the cookies baked only once tasted more like brownies than biscotti.  They were dense, soft, and chewy–rather pleasing in taste and texture.  They were not at all what you would expect for biscotti, but also not quite sweet or dense enough to pass for a brownie, so it was something of a “mystery” dessert.  Perhaps I am more of a traditionalist, but I found that I preferred the texture of the twice-baked biscotti if only because it was crunchier and was, therefore, more like what I expect when I taste biscotti.

5 comments to Biscotti: better once or twice baked?

  • bigboid

    Man, all I can say is I want to try both results! Funny how our preconceived notions of what something should taste or act like completely shape our preference for said object.

  • You’re exactly right! The once-baked biscotti was very much like a brownie, so I enjoyed eating it. But the traditionalist in me expected a drier cookie, so I preferred the twice-baked. Either way was delicious with the chocolate-cherry biscotti! I wonder how it would work with other recipes that are not-so-rich?

  • […] lastly, you may want to refer to my blog post about my own test experiment with a biscotti recipe.  I tested a Cooking Light recipe for Chocolate Cherry & Hazelnut Biscotti that was […]

  • Barbara

    I love the biscotti at Once Upon a Tart in NYC.it was so crux and kind of dense. Didn’t
    Know why it was that way, until tonight. I tried baking only once and I think “I’ve got it?” also used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 1/2 white flour., 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar. Didn’t have enuf (smurfs) almonds so added some choc bits. Oh yes!

  • Lauren

    I definitely prefer the once-baked biscottis. Although my Mommom has always made them the traditional twice-baked, my mom always made them once-baked because we preferred the softer texture. Chocolate chip and plain vanilla biscottis taste great once-baked.

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