Biscotti is one tough cookie. Literally.
Northwest Biscotti founder Frances Turner wants to challenge that reputation.
She thinks that biscotti should chip away at your willpower. Not your teeth.
Turner bakes a slimmer, softer version that rivals the stiff commercial brands of coffee’s favorite oblong cookie.
“A lot of people say it’s not as hard as traditional biscotti,” Turner said. “I’ve had people say it’s more like a cookie.”
Hence the catchphrase on the company logo: “Not your grandma’s hard biscotti.”
Until recently, Turner had been cooking her biscotti out of a Mukilteo storefront. That bakery closed March 3, and she’s moving her operation to Marysville. A grand re-opening is set for 10 a.m. April 21 at 10208 State Ave., No. B, Marysville.
Biscotti started as an experiment for Turner, a 41-year-old Marysville mom who had been baking cookies at home for years.
She tried an orange-cranberry biscotti recipe on the back of a cereal box. A few tweaks later, that recipe became a crowd favorite.
The crunchy cookies expanded from family gatherings to friends of friends and coworkers. By popular demand, she started selling the biscotti on Facebook.
Now, Turner is baking 25 flavors of biscotti. Orange-cranberry and almond roca are two of her most popular varieties.
It’s been a whirlwind for Turner.
Before she was baking full time, Turner worked in billing at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland. She quit in 2016 to focus on the bakery.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said, “because now my biscotti is being sold at coffee stands at Evergreen.”
More than a dozen other regional coffee stands and shops sell Northwest Biscotti.
Her big break came in 2015 when Brandon Wilson was craving a sweet, local addition for his menu at The Living Room Coffee House in Marysville. He approached Turner about selling Northwest Biscotti.
“Coffee and biscotti just go so well together,” Wilson said.
Turner initially declined, citing her lack of approved equipment. She changed her mind when Wilson offered her use of The Living Room Coffee House’s commercial kitchen. She made an exclusive flavor for the cafe — an espresso-blend named The Living Room Coffee House.
When more wholesalers approached her, Turner moved to a larger kitchen at the Snohomish Senior Center but soon outgrew that shared space. She opened her Mukilteo store in July 2016.
The logo, drawn by Turner, features jagged mountain peaks and pointy pine trees. It’s an ode to her own roots.
“Growing up, I was very crafty. I painted, I sculpted, I crafted,” Turner said. “I’m still making things. This kind of satisfies that crafty part of me.”
None of Turner’s biscotti are dipped in chocolate.
“My philosophy is, ours just doesn’t need it,” Turner said.
She’s crafted a reputation and recipe that has turned some customers into biscotti snobs.
“I’ll have people pass my stand at farmers markets and say, ‘No thanks, I only like Northwest Biscotti.’ I say, ‘That’s me!’ ”
She’s promoting another way to honor biscotti’s Mediterranean roots.
“A lot of people don’t know, but in Italy, people dip their biscotti in wine,” Turner said.
Biscotti, Latin for “twice baked,” originated in the Tuscany province of central Italy. The name refers to its cooking process. Biscotti mix is first rolled out, baked, removed from the oven, cooled and then baked again. The result is a crunchy biscuit that used to sustain traveling Roman armies for weeks at a time.
Turner said that lengthy shelf life is part of the problem with most biscotti.
“You don’t know when they made that,” she said. “It could have been months ago.”
Turner said her fresh batches and the softer texture of Northwest Biscotti have converted many people into fans.
“It’s nice on your teeth,” she said.
Washington North Coast Magazine
This article is featured in the spring issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www. washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.