18 December 2009

I Biscotti

Cantuccini di Prato Los Angeles but homemade in Florence, Italy.

Twice-baked cookies. An easy recipe but nearly impossible to make just right. But I'm on a mission. I'm determined to get it down.

Not being the most proficient in a kitchen, I'm no master chef nor baker. I blame it on my busy professional lifestyle, but reality is I had other priorities and grew up eating out more than in the home.

In the past several days, I have attempted to perfect my biscotti. I have compared countless recipes and tried a number of them. Only a few ingredients are called for, yet it is amazing how differing the quanties are per recipe. Not only that, some call for huge amounts of butter or olive oil or only a small amount of butter or oil, but most call for none at all. Being health conscious but also being peccato di gola ("having a sweet tooth"), I prefer the recipes that don't include butter or oil. Each day I learn something I need to do differently; mostly, I use one recipe and learn from my mistakes. I have the flavor down. The form needs some work. The batter is different with each batch I bake. Of course, it probably doesn't help that I don't have any apparecchiatura ("equipment" in this context, "measuring cups" or a "scale"). Even though Italians eyeball measurements and learned their family recipes by watching their mothers cook who watched their mothers cook, who in turn watched their mothers cook in the generations prior, not being so well-versed in the kitchen, it may behoove me to at least buy a bilancia ("scale").

I have been timidly making the rounds to my friends in town, people whom have probably been eating biscotti since they were teething. Even the local police have tasted my biscotti and identified which ingredients I have included. I am receiving valuable information, feedback, constructive criticism, and even compliments. Oh, and I have the one friend that claims to have broken her tooth on my biscotti, which I know was a joke. Overall, everyone says the flavor is right on. I have several people volunteering to sample my biscotti daily. Getting just the right amount of croccantezza ("crispiness") with still a bit of chewiness is what I'm going for as well as the form.

Who knows? At 18 to 22 Euro a kilo, I may be able to start selling my special biscotti soon. A girl's got to make a living!

Cantuccini is most often enjoyed following dinner with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine. I prefer it with my coffee. However, I like it just fine all by itself.

Today's batch seems to be almost perfect. Time to go make the rounds ... after a few biscotti for energy.

-- Josslyn 'Giosalina'
Florence, Italy

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