A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the UK Biscotti producer Great British Biscotti Co, to ask if I’d like to try some of their Biscotti – and my answer, of course, was yes send me a truck full of the lovely things ;-).
Joking apart, I suggested – only partially as an excuse to eat a shed load of biscotti – that I could make a range of different coffees, and do an experiment to see which I personally prefer when it comes to dunking their Biscotti in various coffees. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will have the same opinion of course, as everyone has different taste preferences, but still, why not?
If you’re not familiar with biscotti, by the way, here’s a bit of info for you. They share something with concrete, and underfloor heating, not that you’ll break your teeth if you bite one ;-), but that they were invented by ancient Romans. Their name comes from the word biscoctus, which means ‘twice cooked’ in medieval Latin, which is how they’re made.
Being twice baked gives them their characteristic crispness, but they were designed like this for practical reasons, to make them as non-perishable as possible, making them perfect as a long-lasting snack for Roman armies. Mcdonalds hadn’t been invented back then, so there was no option when invading the world but to carry long-lasting supplies, although I’m sure they also picked the odd apple and did a spot of hunting here and there.
I like the idea of a Roman Soldier sat around a fire dipping biscotti in a coffee, but Alas this wouldn’t have happened. Coffee wasn’t a big thing in the Roman Empire until Pope Clement VIII fell in love with it upon first sip in the late 1500s or early 1600s, and decided to un-demonize it by baptizing it, thus inventing the lungo/long black/Americano by topping it up with holy water (OK, I made that last bit up, but he did actually baptize it apparently!).
Anyway, I received the box of goodies, and I was initially really surprised by just how many flavours they have, in sweet and savoury! I doubt the ancient Romans had this luxury.
- White Chocolate, Cranberries & Pistachio
- Chocolate Orange
- Simply Almond
- Chunky Belgian Choc
- Honey, Lemon & Ginger
- Coffee & Walnut
- Jalapeno & Cheddar
- Chorizo & Parmesan
- Parmesan & Fennel
- Indian Spice
- Sun Dried Tomato & Olives
- Wild Garlic & Rosemary
Biscotti is the plural, by the way – you open a pack of biscotti but you dunk a biscotto – there’s some useless info to annoy your friends and family with.
But how do they taste, and even more importantly, which are best for dunking into various coffees?
Just to say, first of all, I didn’t try dipping savoury biscotti into coffee – that’s just weird ;-). I tried all the savoury ones on their own, except for the Chorizo one as I’m a pescetarian – I would think they would be great with soup.
By the way, just to point out – this isn’t a sponsored post (I don’t do them) or advertising of any kind. I’ve received nothing from Great British Biscotti except some great British Biscotti to sample for the review, and if you see someone who looks like me, driving a brand new Lamborghini Aventador, well, they say everyone has a doppelganger ;-).
White Chocolate, Cranberries & Pistachio
On their own: Nice, sweet but with the sharpness of the cranberries, and the distinctive taste of pistachio. This isn’t flavourings, as with the other GBBC products, they’re made with the actual ingredients that they’re supposed to taste of – so these are made with slices of Pistachios, cranberries, and chunks of chocolate.
Dunked: The suggestion on the box is for hot chocolate, and this definitely worked, but it worked well in latte too, and in a frothy cappuccino with chocolate sprinkles. I wouldn’t usually have chocolate on cappuccino, but I know many people do, and I thought this might work with the biscotti, and I think it does.
I’m not sure what I think of the taste of this biscotti dunked in Espresso – it’s interesting, but there’s maybe a bit too much going on with a great espresso and the various tastes of the biscotti – especially when dipped into the crema of a freshly pulled shot, but it’s interesting anyway.
On their own: NOMNOM! My favourite I think. Can’t beat chocolate and orange as a flavour combination, well maybe you can actually but it’s certainly up there with some of the best. They’re not overly sweet, thanks to the use of dark chocolate, very, very nice.
Dunked: Interesting taste when dipped into Espresso, particularly into the crema – it’s a bit of a weird one, orange with coffee, but it makes for an interesting taste with a powerful Espresso.
Dunked into latte, cappuccino, Americano & flat white, I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, but I’d rather eat them on their own and enjoy the drinks on their own, the flavour combinations of chocolate orange and anything with coffee in probably isn’t as good as enjoying both on their own, well for me anyway, whatever floats your boat. In hot chocolate though – Amazing. Especially if it’s not a sickly sweet hot chocolate.
On their own: Very nice! Lots of sliced almonds, which I’m a fan of. I think I’m right in saying that almond biscotti is generally regarded as the classic biscotti – it’s what I’d usually think of when I imaging biscotti.
I really like the taste and the texture of these, the slices of almond add to the crunch, and taste of almonds and sweetness is very pleasant – especially if you like sweet things and almonds ;-). Again, it’s real almonds, so there’s no synthetic, over the top taste.
Dunked: The pack suggests dunking into a smooth Americano – so I did, and yes, I think that’s a nice combination – same is true with filter.
Generally speaking I think Almond goes well with the taste of coffee, but for me personally, it goes better with black coffee rather than milky coffee, so filter / Americano / long black ec., soaked into one of these, is very nice. Into hot chocolate, these possibly aren’t quite the best match as it’s just more sweetness.
Chunky Belgian Choc
On their own: Probably my second favourite after chocolate orange, really nice, and I could happily munch through a bag of these, no problem! Nice chunks of dark chocolate and they’ve not been stingy with them either.
Dunked: Into a frothy cappuccino is the suggestion on the pack, and this definitely works. Chocolate on top of a cappuccino is a very familiar taste, so there’s no shock to the taste buds with this flavour combination, but the chunks of dark chocolate and the sweet biscuit paired very well with the froth of a cappuccino or latte.
Works very well with a machiatto too, flat white, and cortado/piccolo. Also works very well with Espresso – especially if you let it really soak in just to the point at which it starts to break apart!
Honey, Lemon & Ginger
On their own: This wouldn’t be a flavour that I’d be the most excited by, to be honest. I don’t mind ginger, but I find it a bit harsh, I don’t mind honey, and I like lemon best in gin & tonic ;-). Actually, though, these three elements along with the sweet crunchy biscuit work together really well, and I think the balance is right. The ginger is definitely there but it’s not completely wiping out the other flavours. As with the other flavours, they’re using actual ingredients rather than flavourings, these are made with real honey, ground ginger and fresh lemon zest.
Dunked: These are really made to be paired with tea, rather than coffee. I wouldn’t say they taste horrible dunked into any of the coffees I’ve tried them with, but none of them really jumped out as being a combination worth shouting about particularly.
With tea though, they definitely go very well. In particular, earl grey tea either with or without milk. Coffee is my favourite drink in the world, of course – but Tea is probably my second (followed by red wine, and then either cider, real ale or Guinness depending on the weather), but it has to be earl grey. It comes from my great grandma, or “Grannie” as we called her. She was posh, always came into her lounge with a tea trolley with a pot of earl grey – made with loose leaves, not tea bags, and always with cakes of some description, and biscuits.
I drink earl grey with milk usually, although on a hot day, earl grey without milk, with a slice of lemon, I find really refreshing! Since lemon goes so well with earl grey, it makes sense that these go well dunked in it, but the whole combination of honey lemon and ginger I really enjoyed with earl grey.
Coffee & Walnut
On their own: Not overly intense in either coffee or walnut, which I think is a good thing – they’re flavoured with ground coffee beans rather than a flavouring, which I think gives them a fairly subtle but real coffee flavour as opposed to foods which are given an over the top fake coffee taste with flavourings.
The walnut taste also comes from, wait for it… bits of walnut ;-), so again it’s real flavours rather than synthetic, and what’s also great about this is the textures come with them.
Dunked: Dunking coffee flavoured biscotti into coffee seems counter intuitive, but actually, it’s very enjoyable – in any coffee, but particularly in Espresso. If you let the Espresso soak into the biscotto, you get a very pleasant combination of flavours, I won’t try to get too technical about it, you can try it yourself and see what you think.
This is a point actually, for any fellow home Baristas reading this – biscotti are potentially a great way to save wasting sink shots… No one wants to drink a messed up bitter over-extracted shot, I wouldn’t have thought, but if you have a bitter over-extracted shot or a sour under extracted shot that you’re only going to launch in the sink – why not dip something sweet like Biscotti in it? If you’re entertaining, and you’ve made an Espresso you don’t feel happy with serving, just put it in the middle of the table and tell your guests it’s for dipping, but that anyone caught double dipping will be doing the washing up ;-).
So that’s the sweet Biscotti, and now onto the savoury. I’ve never heard of savoury biscotti before, so I’m not sure if it was already a thing or if GBBC invented it, although double baked savoury breads were a staple food of the Roman Legions according to Wikipedia.
Jalapeno & Cheddar
Ooh, these have a bit of a kick! ;-).
They’re very moreish, really nice cheesy flavour but with a fairly fierce hit of jalapeno. I can imagine these being great with a slice of cheddar or even blue cheese actually, I didn’t have any cheese in at the time so I missed a trick there. I’d imagine they’d also be really nice as croutons for a broccoli and stilton soup.
Ooh, once again – these also pack a bit of a punch.
Nice though, and again, moreish. Again I can imagine these being great with soup, I do like a bit of a kick with soup. They’re full of spice, and also sunflower seeds, which adds to the texture.
Wild Garlic & Rosemary
I’m not a big fan of Rosemary, Garlic I do like, and wild garlic has the characteristic garlic flavour but not quite as intense. Unfortunately for me, there’s too much rosemary in these and not enough wild garlic, I can only really taste the wild garlic slightly on the aftertaste. I can’t say I enjoy that pairing of cheese and rosemary, if you like the taste of rosemary though, you might like them.
Parmesan & Fennel
I’m not a huge fan of fennel either ;-), I don’t detest it but it’s not a flavour that I find particularly pleasant. These don’t have too much of an overpowering fennel taste though, so I would eat them. The flavour of the fennel comes from the fennel seeds, I know this because I had a couple stuck in my teeth, which is a reminder that I need to make a dentists appointment…
The packaging suggests using these as a base for a canape, which seems like a nice idea, the fennel flavour and the general cheesiness wouldn’t be an overpowering base, maybe something like goats cheese, rocket and onion, or cream cheese, salmon and sliced radish – I’m no chef though ;-), I can just about boil an egg.
Sun dried tomato and olivesSun Dried Tomato & Olives
Since I love sun-dried tomato, and I love olives – and since these are made with actual chunks of both, it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of these, I’d happily sit and devour a pack. I’d think they’d go particularly well with chunks of feta, or with goats cheese.
Conclusion of my Little Experiment
Basically, most of the sweet biscotti from Great British Biscotti Co will go great with most coffees, except the honey lemon and ginger which is really made for tea, and was great with earl grey. My commentary above is based on my personal preferences, and we’re all different, you might prefer a completely different combination than me.
I think they’re a really nice product, you can tell they’re made by hand due to their non-uniform shape, they’re made here in the UK, and they’re made of real ingredients rather than flavourings. If you run a cafe’ or work in the hospitality industry, I’d highly recommend sampling these – you can get them in kilo trade packs directly from Great British Biscotti.
Life is like a box of chocolates, so follow me on Twitter, and that’s all I have to say about that.