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News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Wine pairing with biscotti: A final update

davidg618's picture

Wine pairing with biscotti: A final update

As most, if not all, of you know Italians traditionally dip biscotti into their coffee or wine, i suspect, in part, to soften it a bit before chewing. October, November and December of year, along with holiday baking, we're putting the finishing touches to plans for our annual January open house wherein we serve only our homemade wines, homebrewed beer, and a cornucopia of food, all made from scratch.

This year's theme is Wine and Bread.

Technically, biscotti is not a bread, but it fits so well, we've added it to our list that includes sourdoughs (wheat and ryes), pain de mie, ciabatta, lavash, fougasse, and of course baguettes. I'm also going to try Hamelman's Vollkornbrot; if successful it too will join the list. It should pair well with a pilsner finishing its fermenting as I write.

Today I experimented with a parmesan-black pepper biscotti thinking it will pair well with white wine, especially the sauvignon blanc we're offering this year. My wife and I shared the small corner pieces, and froze the rest. We opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc. It pairs wonderfully.

We're also planning a dried-cherries and pecans biscotti to pair with a Cabernet Franc ice wine (sweet)--a first; always dry wines prior--and a craisins and pastachio biscotti that should pair well with both reds and whites.

David G


avatrx1's picture

I always thought that Biscotti was hard to make til I made some a while back.  I have tons of recipes, but can never seem to get beyond this one.




Unlike most commercially available chocolate biscotti, these have a deep chocolaty flavor.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla - optional

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.

On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes - flipping over after 5 minutes.

Cool biscotti on a rack. Biscotti keep in airtight containers 1 week and frozen, 1 month.

Makes about 30 biscotti.

I don't think I've ever gotten 30.............................



Janknitz's picture

Looks good! 

Are you a hobby winemaker or a pro?  My husband is an enologist for two wineries (owned by the same company).  One of them does all sorts of Italian varietals. 

I'm not much of a wine conniseur.   I have a very uneducated palate.   There are a few wines I really like and a lot more that I drink just because it's what we have with dinner. But last night he opened a pinot that was AMAZING.  (I THINK it was a pinot, but I wasn't paying enough attention)  It had this spicy complex flavor and I don't think I've ever been that impressed by a wine before.  I think it would go beautifully with the black pepper and parmesean biscotti.  Can you share the recipe? 

davidg618's picture

I'm a retired engineer, a home baker, a home vintner and a home brewer. Loved my work, but could have readily been in the food industry. I live it vicariously through a son: a very successful chef.

Here's the link.

David G.

MommaT's picture

Thanks for this recipe!  I've never had a savory biscotti before (perhaps that makes me a heathen!) and was very intrigued.  WIll make these for my next dinner party.

Now - what about those other flavor combinations you mentioned?  Do those use the same basic dough?  Or a different version?



davidg618's picture

will work for other savory additions, but this is the first time I've ever made biscotti, sweet or savory. Consequently, I've only Starbuck's to compare with. This recipe yielded equally crisp, but decidedly less dense cookies then commercial biscotti I've tasted. I much prefer these. All the commercial ones I've tried have to be dipped, or one runs the risk of dislocating one's jaw, or breaking a tooth;-) These yield to a healthy, but not crippling, bite without dipping.

I've downloaded another recipe from the Internet for the pastachio-craisin version. The dough is a sweet dough. I'll try it next. Since my goal is specifically to pair with dry wines, depending on the outcome, I may use this leaner dough (no sugar) for a second try.

For the dried-cherry and toasted pecan version, pairing with a sweet red ice wine, I will definately use a sweet dough. I'm doing this one last, because I don't have a recipe; just thought the cherry-nut combination would go well with the specific wine. So I'll make my own formula, probably tweaking the pastachio-craisin sweet dough.

David G

avatrx1's picture

Not that I'm an expert at biscotti because I truly am NOT, but the ones I have made at home are no where near as hard as the commercial ones.  I've bought them at Sam's Clubs and other places and mine - while nice and crisp - aren't hard as a rock.

I think the homemade ones in general are fresher - making them less jaw-breaking.



davidg618's picture

also may be a factor. The recipe used, ingredients is given in volume, not weight, but I weighed my flour anyway. The dough was very wet, and remained so even after I added an additional 30g (1/4 cup) of flour. Using wetted fingers and a bowl scraper I shaped the logs inplace on the Silpat mat.

Everytime I've eaten a commercial biscotti I've thought it would benefit from less flour.

Thanks, susie, your confirmation of my first experience lets me know I can expect the preferred firmness.

David G


avatrx1's picture

My dough wasn't overly wet, but my hands do get kind of chocolatey when I do the first shaping.

I believe it's freshness or not overworking the dough that makes them so ' tender' (if that's a good description)?

  Prior to the bread baking information I've gleaned over the past several months I never paid much attention to the hydration of doughs.  I don't know that any of the recipes I've used - were weighed.

Now that you mention it, I'm going to pay closer attention the next time I make biscotti.  Since it's only my hubby and I now (empty nesters - kind-of ---the kids live nearby) I'm afraid if I make them, I'll eat them and I"ve successfully lost about 7 pounds and would like to keep them gone!



davidg618's picture

This morning I made the second recipe I downloaded: Cranberry and pastacio, in a sweet dough.

This dough is considerably different than the leaner savory dough used in the parmesan-black pepper biscotti. It's liquids are olive oil and sugar only (discounting 1 tsp. of vannila extract.). Once again, I've duped myself simply converting volume measurement to weight using 4.25 ounces/cup AP flour. My dough turned out very wet, so much so, it wouldn't hold its shape on the baking mat. Nonethe less, I went ahead and baked them. They spread further in the oven.

Here's a sample of the biscotti

They are decidely flatter than what we've come to expect a "proper" biscotti should look like. Clearly, this is due the dough's wetness. I turned to You-tube, and ran three or four "How to Make Biscotti videos". All of them were fundementally the same: butter, sugar, eggs, flavoring, baking soda and/or baking powder, salt and enough flour to make a very stiff (not sticky, like both recipes caution) dough: a basic sugar cookie dough. One of the videos was made in Italy! I winced when, in another, the baker scooped flour from the newly opened bag, shook the excess (kind of) off the edge of the measuring cup, and dumped it into a sifter. She did this four times, the last time with a smaller measure, and declared with righteous authority "There, three and one-quarter cups." She went on to form a dough stiffest of all I observed.

But, here's my dilemna: I like the tender crispness of my biscotti, and the flavor is excellent, a nutty wheat flavor, punctuated by little intense bursts of flavor from the craisins and pastacios. (Likewise, in the parmesan-black pepper, the cheese lends a distinct base note, and every so often you're surprised by a puff of pepper.)

Nonetheless, I want them to look "good". Yes, I'm shamefully vain, and I accept that I'm letting the commercial biscotti define the form. And I still want them to look "good".

So, on my third experiment--dried-cherries and toasted pecans--I'm going to start with the basic sweet dough recipe (may substitute butter for traditional olive oil) and, weighing carefully as I go along, add flour until I get dough that can just begin to hold its shape--a little sagging will be acceptable.

I'll keep you posted.


fortarcher's picture

I do not remember where I got this recipe but I make it every year for christmas.

2c flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2c. butter

3/4c. sugar

1-2tbs lemon zest(must have)

1/4tsp. salt

2 eggs

3/4c. pistacios

2/3c. dried cranberries

Mix.  Make into 13by3 logs bake 40 min.  cool 30 min. slice and bake 15 min ot till golden.

The lemon zest really makes theese cookies.  So do not skip.

davidg618's picture

I'll give it a try, with the lemon zest of course.

David G

breadsong's picture

Hello, Friends of ours travelled to Italy and returned with a bottle of Vin Santo wine - we dipped almond biscotti into the wine - for me, this was a taste epiphany.
Regards, breadsong

davidg618's picture

Today I made fortarcher's basic dough recipe substituting 1/2 cup toasted pecans, and 3/4 cup dried tart cherries. The dough, while still wet, handled beautifully, and held its shape. And I didn't forget the lemon zest.

We are pleased with the flavor; these will pair well with the sweet red ice wine we're serving.

Thanks, fortarcher.

David G

turosdolci's picture

I have a biscotti business and very often we get orders for wine parties.  Biscotti are most often dipped in wine in Italy. Not only sweet wines such as Vino Santo but all wines. Biscotti can be soft or hard as the name has become common to all types of cookies.  However one that we often make for wine is "Cantucci" and taralli.  I have written several articles and recipes here on Fresh Loaf and in my blog.  Please go to I have some taralli recipes as well as the cantucci recipe (almond biscotti) there.