Today I was in the mood to bake. I didn’t want to bake cookies or a cake or brownies, but I wanted to bake. I hate it when I get in these little moods where I want something but I really don’t know what it is I want. But there it was. In a vain attempt to distract myself, I went to a little coffee shop I like in Vancouver, Thatchers.
They make great coffee and they also bake a lot of things right there. I guess I was thinking that a cup of coffee, a little baked goodie, and a new book (The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, if anyone is interested.) would be enough of a distraction to get me out of the baking mood. I stood there looking at the array of goodies, and what caught my eye but a jar of cardamom biscotti. It was perfect, it dunked nicely into the Porcelain mug of hot coffee – let me just say that I love that they give you a real mug and real plate at this place – the spiciness of the cardamom was perfect with the brew. Heaven.
Biscotti was a bit of a mystery to me for a long time. I would see jars of it in coffee shops, jars where the volume never seemed to change. And when I tried it? I nearly broke a tooth! Who would eat dry, hard, crumbly bread like this? Madness I say, sheer madness. Then I watched someone dunk the concrete like substance into their coffee and had my aha moment. I tried it again and I finally got it. You kind of need the coffee flavor to go with the whole thing. It enhances it. And you need it to be dry so that you don’t end up with a soggy mess of cookie in your lap. For me, biscotti is to coffee what Oreos are to milk.
In any case – I came home with visions of biscotti dancing in my brain. Could anything be more Northwest in the baking realm? Sure, I know, Italian and all of that. But hey – coffee and the Northwest? Biscotti is practically the state cookie. For the last two hours I have been happily perusing recipes for this twice baked goodie. There are the basic almond and vanilla varieties (not unlike Mandelbrot) but it seems to branch out from there. Recipes that call for chocolate chips, dried fruits, every kind of nut you can imagine; I even came across one that used mini peanut butter cups. And then there is the whole dip or drizzle dilemma (which is just wonderfully alliterative to say out loud – go ahead, try it.); which includes every variety of chocolate and several different types of frosting type substances.
So here it is, early evening and I have not even started to bake biscotti. Nary an egg has been cracked, not an iota of flour measured, not a single nut chopped. I don’t know if I will actually bake biscotti tonight, but it has been fun to see the possibilities. From the grimace inducing ‘eews’ I have uttered over ridiculous inclusions to the appreciative ‘ooohhhs’ for the more intriguing ideas (seriously - cinnamon sugar biscotti, brilliant!) I don’t feel like the time has been wasted.
Then again, the idea of biscotti with my morning coffee is pretty wonderful. Sigh. Okay, I need to go to the store now.