In Italian biscotti means cookie. Not just the long, hard, twice baked cookie with the curved top and flat bottom that most of us associate with the word but any cookie in general. The bis – cotti ( ‘bis’ meaning twice in Italian and ‘cotto’ meaning baked or cooked) that we’re most familiar with does exist in Italy with a long standing gastrohistory and a regional version known as cantucci.
The Renaissance bakers of Prato and Florence in Tuscany took the twice baked sustainable bread found in the kit of every Roman Legionnaire, (Pliny the Elder boasted that “such goods would be edible for centuries”) and elevated it to a culinary delight. Now the rather dry, pallid staple of nourishment for Roman soldiers and ancient travelers has become so popular that there are variations and permutations made all over the world. But the best interpretation is still found in Prato where Antonio Mattei, started making the now famous Biscotti di Prato dal 1858 known locally as cantucci.
Originally made only on Sundays, Biscottificio Antonio Mattei on Via Ricasoli, 20 transformed the making of biscotti into an art. Baked with all natural ingredients according to old world traditions, the biscotti of Prato have become a food ritual that continues today under the tutelage of Ernesto Pandolfini, a natural evolution with new flavor combinations like Pine Nut, Raisin and Chili Biscotti and Chocolate Pistachio Olive Oil Biscotti. If you want to serve a stellar Italian desert cookie, buy these. If you want to give an exceptional gift of taste, buy these. If you want to gift yourself a unique taste of Italy, buy these.
And like any cantucci a glass of Vin Santo for sipping and dipping would complete the experience.