Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Biscotti Project: The Start of an Artisanal Biscotti Business

Trish Lobenfeld's Biscotti

Trish Lobenfeld’s Biscotti

I first met Trish Lobenfeld ( at this year’s Roger Smith Cookbook Conference.  At a conference session devoted to showcasing new cookbook and food apps and ideas, she presented her “biscotti project.”

She’s always loved biscotti, but her attempts at creating biscotti led to what she thought were less than optimal results — the biscotti were too crumbly.  As a culinary professional who teaches and develops and tests recipes, she was convinced great biscotti were possible.

After research and development and tweaking, she perfected a biscotti recipe. The biscotti had a nice “snap” and were not overly sweet. After mastering the basic recipe, Trish was hooked and began experimenting with all sorts of different biscotti flavors and varieties. 

At the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference Trish had samples of some of her biscotti.  I tried the Peaches & Cream Biscotti, which I have to say, were excellent.

She presented at the Cookbook Conference in order to help clarify what her next steps should be to launch a biscotti business.

I sat down with Trish six weeks after the Cookbook Conference to find out what progress she’s made with the biscotti business.

These are her updates:

— To date she’s developed recipes for 29 sweet biscotti, 4 savory biscotti, and 2 gluten-free biscotti.  Some of the more intriguing sounding flavors include:

          — Carrot Cake Biscotti Dipped in White Chocolate

          — Cherry, Pistachio & Vanilla Bean White Chocolate Biscotti

          — Pumpkin, Walnut & Dark Chocolate Biscotti

          — Candied Lemon, Almond & White Chocolate Biscotti

          — Chocolate –Covered Strawberry Biscotti

          — Mango & Toasted Coconut Biscotti

          — Red Velvet Dipped in White Chocolate Biscotti

          — Basil Pesto Biscotti

          — Peanut Butter & Chocolate Biscotti (gluten-free)

 — She’s exploring an arrangement with a food production facility and will begin scaling up her recipes for production of larger batches

— She started identifying local stores and restaurants who might be interested in carrying her biscotti

—  A cookbook deal may be in the works.  And she’ll have gluten-free recipes available for all of her biscotti.

We’ll check back with her to see how the business is progressing.

Passion Fruit in Desserts

Passion Fruit on Vine

Passion Fruit on Vine

Lately I’ve been noticing passion fruit-based desserts.  Passion fruit makes its very interesting presence known in gelato, sorbet, ice cream, chocolate, macarons, tarts,  and even as a glaze over doughnuts.Why would passion fruit be used in desserts?  It has an assertive and intriguing sweet-tart flavor.  Passion fruit pairs beautifully with ice cream and cream, chocolate, and other fruits such as mango, orange, and banana. And since it’s grown in warm climates (and is native to South America), passion fruit-based desserts can make us feel as though we’ve escaped to the tropics, even if the trip lasts for just a few minutes.

I thought passion fruit was only very recently used in desserts, but that’s not the case.  Jon Snyder of Il Laboratorio del Gelato, a high-end, producer and retailer of unique flavors of gelatos and sorbets, told me that he’s been in business for almost 11 years and has been offering passion fruit sorbet and  gelato for 10 years.  Another ice cream purveyor, Gaby’s Farm, in South Florida, has been offering passion fruit ice cream and sorbet even longer – since 1999.  Her passion fruit varities now include:  Pure Passion Ice Cream, Mango Passion Sorbet, Manago Passion Melange Ice Cream, and Passion Sorbet. What differentiates Gaby’s Farm from other ice cream vendors is she grows her own fruit.  Gaby Berryer said passion fruit is the main crop at her farm and it’s hand pollinated.   

There is interest in passion fruit desserts. A web search of “passion fruit desserts” brought up over 3 million hits.  Earlier this year, Tootsie Roll Industries added a passion fruit flavor to its Frooties (soft chewy candies in fruit flavors) line.  And Olivier Dessyn of Mille-Feuille, a high-end Manhattan bakery specializing in macarons and napoleans, notes that he has offered passion fruit macarons since he’s opened and this flavor macaron is a best seller.    

And the increasing interest in Latin American cuisine also bodes well for the continued popularity of passion fruit desserts.

Amella Cocoa Butter Caramels: Passion Fruit

Amella Cocoa Butter Caramels: Passion Fruit

But what could negatively impact the popularity of passion fruit-based sweets?  The lack of familiarity with passion fruit.  Amella, a producer of artisan cocoa butter cararmels, introduced passion fruit into its line in 2009.  However, Amella recently eliminated the passion fruit variety due to poor sales.  (I’ve purchased these Passion Fruit Caramels and think they’re delicious; I’m sorry they will no longer be available.)  Emir Kiamilev of Amella notes:  “I don’t think passion fruit will be a very popular ingredient in chocolates because many people don’t know what a passion fruit is, and therefore will never even try it.”It is probably the more adventurous eaters, willing to sample exotic foods, who are driving sales of passion fruit-based desserts.  Another macaron bakery, La Maison du Macaron, reports that its passion fruit macarons are popular.  Yet, for this bakery, passion fruit macarons seem quite tame when compared with some of its other sophisticated macaron offerings – cassis, strawberry mint, rose, and kir royale.

Of course, like other crops, natural disasters can wipe out passion fruit production.  (Thanks to Melissa Hunt of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services who provided great background information on the tropical fruit industry in Florida.)

Passion From Tart from FP Patisserie

Passion From Tart from FP Patisserie

But as someone who has recently become a fan of passion fruit in desserts, I certainly hope these desserts will be available for a long time!

Mango Passion Melange Ice Cream from Gaby's Farm

Mango Passion Melange Ice Cream from Gaby’s Farm

Passion Fruit/Milk Chocolate Macaron from Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe

Passion Fruit/Milk Chocolate Macaron from Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe