Local Bounty: June 18

Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti

Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti
Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti | Photo by Caron Golden

I grew up eating the Eastern European Jewish version of biscotti—Mandelbrodt, or mandelbread. This hard, finger-sized cookie is homey and tasty. The almonds and cinnamon sugar (mandelbrodt literally means “almond bread” in Yiddish) make it a dunking machine, as a child for hot chocolate and these days, coffee.

Still, I have to admit, the heavier mandelbread is no biscotti. Perhaps because it’s Italian, it has a certain romance to it and today, even some playfulness, with the endless flavor variations that today’s biscotti makers employ. Amber Smith’s cookies at Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti at the Solana Beach Farmers Market are utterly seductive. I wasn’t alone in thinking that. Customers were swarming the stall, nabbing the perfect little samples being given away.

Biscotti (the plural of biscotto, which originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice baked” or “twice cooked”) were purposely designed to be dry so they could be stored for long periods of time. First you make a loaf and bake it, then slice the loaf and bake the slices. Traditionally, biscotti is made up of flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts, and almonds, but, of course, today, we see all sorts of variations and Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti is doing its own take on the cookie. The result is a fantastic crunch and surprisingly light texture in five whimsical flavors. There are four to a package, each costing $3.75.

You can find Smith and Biscuit Gourmet Biscotti at the Sunday Solana Beach Farmers Market, the William Sonoma Artisans Market in Fashion Valley, Solo on Cedros Ave. in Solana Beach, and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. You can also buy the biscotti online on the company websiste. Here are the five varieties:

The Dreamer

This vanilla cookie with smooth sea salt caramels and roasted pecans is light and the perfect match for a cup of Rooibos tea or sweet dessert wine.

The Romantic

More vanilla, but here infused with amaretto liqueur (so Italian!), as well as tart cherries, dark chocolate, and toasted almonds. Very sexy. How about some amaretto gelato on the side?

The Vagabond

The third of the vanilla-flavored biscotti, but here with a punch of white chocolate and toasted hazelnuts. Delicate, simple, clean. A beginner biscotti?

The Rascal

I did a bit of a swoon over this brown sugar biscotti with cinnamon and candied walnuts. This is the one I’d dunk into hot cocoa or bliss out on with iced coffee. Deep.

The Muse

If you dream in tones of chocolate, this is your flavor. A chocolate cookie with chunks of dark Belgian chocolate? It’s a fine match for a double espresso and really should be called The Hoarder, because that’s what I’d do with it. Key word? Rich.

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