Chip off the old block
Tommy Biscotti isn't trying to bring down the crisp cookie that represents hundreds of years of Italian tradition. Owner Tommy Taylor just prefers his crumbly, slightly chewy biscotti that goes by the slogan "No dunking required."
"I'm not trying to change your grandmother's recipe," Taylor said. "It was just something that, traditionally, you had to dunk and soften to actually eat, and even after that, there wasn't that much flavor, to me."
It seems that North Market shoppers and customers around the globe agree. The Tommy Biscotti stand, set up Friday through Sunday next to Pam's Popcorn, has applied to become a permanent vendor since opening there a few months ago. And as word has spread of their individual treats and assorted gift packages, they've even been shipping batches overseas (you can order online at tommybiscotti.com).
Biscotti is traditionally made by baking cookie dough in two long slabs, cutting these into slices and reheating them to dry them out.
So what's the secret to his soft-biscotti process? Well, Taylor won't reveal it in full.
"It's still twice-baked, like traditional biscotti, it's just the way that I formulate things that it's softer in texture," he said. "Not a cake-like texture, but just soft enough that you won't break a tooth on it, and that was my goal."
Into Taylor's dough goes ingredients like European butter, real sugar and vanilla beans, he said. All of Tommy Biscotti's 18 flavors are his original creations. That includes chocolate biscotti with mint-infused white chocolate icing; birthday cake biscotti with rainbow sprinkles; and biscotti with a syrupy raspberry layer, topped with white chocolate.
He makes them in a rented commercial kitchen space available through Ohio State University.
He and business partner Kevin Kise are constantly thinking of new flavors, and lately they've involved things like cheeses or spices.
"Eventually, I'd like to go into more savory biscotti as well ... things that would go well with wine," Taylor said. "That seems to be a trend now."
Taylor's first public foray was at the New Albany Marketplace in summer 2007, where the positive response encouraged him to keep baking - at that time, from his home.
That was after past careers as a high school science teacher and a physician's assistant. On his own time, he whipped up cheesecakes, cookies and pies.
"It finally just hit me ... why aren't I doing what I love?" Taylor said.
For recipes and the daily dish, click to the Undercooked blog at ColumbusAlive.com