Gilda’s Biscotti began two decades ago, in the kitchen of my tiny apartment in Haddonfield, NJ, the same small suburb of Philadelphia where I’d grown up. At the time, I was working as a pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel.
This was 1994, which — for those of us old enough to remember — was smack in the middle of America’s very first coffee craze, when people finally began to enjoy the pleasures of European-style coffee culture. As I visited these new and exciting cafés, I noticed that something was sadly missing: authentic biscotti. A couple years earlier, I’d developed my biscotti recipe while I was working a dreamy job as a pastry chef at a hotel in Vail. Our restaurant had a basic biscotti recipe that was used to accompany all coffee service and I was taken with the unusual lightness of these cookies that also required no butter. I remade the biscotti over and over, tweaking the flavors but holding true to its traditional nature.
Eventually I made my way back to Philadelphia. One afternoon, as I walked home from the Four Seasons, I noticed a thick acrid smoke streaming out of a storefront on 19th street, and the amazing smell of coffee. I went inside and met the owners of La Colombe Torrefazione, who were roasting coffee in their new place. Todd and Jean-Phillipe made me an espresso, we talked about food and Philadelphia and I went home that night to bake them a batch of chocolate hazelnut biscotti. They loved them, and La Colombe became my first client. I began making biscotti for their cafe in exchange for free espresso.
I left my pastry chef job at the Four Seasons, and never looked back. I’ve been making my artisan biscotti ever since. Ten years ago, I moved to a farm in Salem County, and set up a small bakery in the up and coming city of Salem, NJ. We’re still creating the best traditional biscotti by hand, every day.
I adhere to a centuries-old method in the creation of my biscotti. Made from the most wholesome ingredients, including eggs from my own backyard flock of hens, my small-batch production ensures the finest, freshest, most authentic biscotti possible. I prepare my biscotti in the traditional Italian style: Logs of dough are placed in the oven until almost finished baking and then cut, by hand, into the classic half-oval shape. Finally, the biscuits are baked again to give them the dry crunch of an authentic biscotti.
I try to keep the flavors that we make rather traditional (ie. no “pumpkin swirl spice” here). We offer eight different types, including vanilla bean, almond anise, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate espresso, cherry pistachio, lemon fig, candied orange almond, and if you can’t decide between any of those, the “Dad’s Midnight Stash,” a combination of them!
My light and pleasingly crisp cookies are perfectly paired with coffee, espresso, milk, hot chocolate, tea, and best of all, wine!