BISCOCHO (“bis-KŌ-ch ōō”) – like the French biscuit and Italian biscotto– literally means “twice cooked.” A biscocho is a firm, not-too-sweet, shortbread cookie that is baked once and then re-baked for crisping. Oil gives the dough great elasticity, making it easy to work into different shapes, and the name changes according to variations in shape and flavorings. Rhodesli reshas, for example, also called reshikas, are biscocho dough that is twisted into a pretzel-like coil and topped with sesame seeds.
The basic biscocho recipe calls for orange juice as the flavoring – a reflection of tastes developed in Spain – and changes according to the whims of the baker, who might also use cinnamon, anise and/or a liqueur or brandy for additional flavoring.
Biscochos are a staple in Ottoman Sephardic homes. Ideal with coffee, tea or a glass of milk, they’re the kind of treat you keep on hand for snacks or impromptu visits.
In modern Spanish culture, bizcocho refers to basic yellow cake made with shortening.