Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie, by Domenica Marchetti (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2015), $18.95

One afternoon not very long ago, I turned my kitchen into Biscotti Central by dipping into Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie by Domenica Marchetti. Marchetti, describing the way through her tidy new cookbook, is responsible for a lot of mixing, baking and, finally, crunching going on–not to mention big tins of the cookie logs piled up on the counter top.
The crackle of the twice-baked is, in truth, irresistible.
Throughout each of the recipe chapters in Ciao Biscotti (“Classic Flavors,” “Chocolate and Spice,” “Biscotti with Fruit,” “Fantasy Flavors,” “The Savory Side,” and “Beyond Biscotti”) the author gently steers the reader/baker into learning the skills to prepare a slew of cookies. The recipe for the “Olive Oil and Citrus” version (page 36, and following page) turned out a lightly crispy and aromatic (thanks to the zest of both an orange and a lemon) load of biscotti, with the recommended accompanying beverage of chamomile tea (perfect!). The “Smoky Gouda” biscotti (page 117, and following page), made of a cheese dough tinged with a mix of smoked paprika and sweet Hungarian paprika, were gently zesty–I’m imagining them as a plate-mate to a composed salad in summer and with soup (hot or cold) throughout the year.
Unmistakably, biscotti are both rugged and charming, appealing for their sometimes sturdy, sometimes tender texture. Marchetti presents you with a plateful of ideas and the wise cook should follow her lead to transform basic pantry staples (plus a few specialty items, as needed, depending on the recipe) into a batch of cookies with only the loveliest form of staying power.