I’ll never forget the first (and last) time I made biscotti. I was a budding young bakestress of 16, eager to whip up some of those exotic-looking cookies I’d seen at the new Starbucks in my town. I slaved all afternoon, digging out the anise seeds from the pantry depths and laboriously stirring the thick dough, toasting almonds, baking, slicing, and baking again.
They were a disaster: dense, rock-hard, anise-heavy, floury, and altogether not very good. At first, I thought it was me, but the store-bought variety were equally disappointing. What exactly about this stuff was supposed to be appealing?
I’d given up on enjoying toasted treats with my tea until recently. My colleague Elena brought in sukhariki, or “Russian Biscotti.” I didn’t expect much, but hey, I’d skipped breakfast and couldn’t afford to be picky.
What a revelation! Light and crisp, the sukhariki were closer to super-toasted raisin bread than their doughy Italian cousins. Elena explained that the name simply means “dried bread” in Russian, but these were something special. Thin-sliced and toasted to an appealing dark amber, studded with raisins, and dusted with sugar, sukhariki were the perfect crunchy complement to breakfast tea. (more…)