Which county bakery makes the signature Italian cookie most worthy to be dunked in espresso?
With the proliferation of specialty coffee drinks, it’s no surprise that the ubiquitous biscotti have become a favorite accompaniment. Biscotti (literally “twice baked”) are Italian cookies that are first baked into a loaf, then sliced into wedges, and baked again until crunchy.
I was looking for the ideal biscotti—oblong shape, about one-inch thick, crunchy texture, ample nut garnish, and a scent of anise. I tasted biscotti from six local bakeries in Westchester: the Bakery at Four Corners in Pelham; Connie’s Bakery and General Store in Mount Kisco; Big Girl Baking Co., an online bakeshop in Bronxville; Teresa’s Gourmet Pastries in Scarsdale; the Perennial Chef in Bedford Hills; and Chappaqua Village Market.
The unwieldy, chocolate-coated version from the Bakery at Four Corners was a meal for two. Teresa’s offered classic anisette biscotti reminiscent of those from an Italian coffeehouse, but they were bland and a whopping two inches thick. The chocolate/hazelnut/pistachio biscotti from Connie’s were delicious, but they reminded me more of cookies in a biscotti shape. Although the biscotti from Perennial Chef were tasty, the texture was too soft and cake-like. I thought I had discovered my favorite when I tried the dainty, artisanal biscotti from Big Girl Baking Co. It had just the right crunch and it was a nice size for dunking. However, the biscotti’s nuts were too finely ground, robbing them of texture.
Then I tasted the quasimale biscotti at Chappaqua Village Market. These authentic cookies are the best! Made from a hundred-year-old family recipe from the owners’ two Italian grandmothers, the quasimale biscotti are rock-hard (you have to dunk or else), studded with almonds, and boldly flavored with cinnamon and vanilla. “Quasimale” refers to their origin as almond biscuits served during Lent. The Market offers five other flavors with a nice crumb but softer texture.
// Diane Forley