The Italian Almanac

Tonia and her twice baked cookies

Italian Cookies - May 16

Italian-born Tonia Winkler has launched a company that is filling coffeehouses in Anchorage and other Alaska cities with homemade biscotti. The company is called Tonia's Biscotti.

Using an old family recipe that she plans to keep secret, Winkler and her husband, Kurt, bake more than 1,000 biscotti every Sunday at Villa Nova restaurant in Anchorage. It's a labor-intensive process that Winkler says makes her feel connected to her mother, who lives outside of Rome, and strengthens emotional ties with her birthplace.

"I felt like I was losing my culture," said Winkler, who has lived in Anchorage since the mid-1970s. She moved with her family to Boston from Italy when she was 13.

Biscotti, which means "twice-baked" in Italian, date back hundreds of years. They may have been developed for Italian seafarers who needed a treat that would last for several weeks or months without spoiling. Traditionally, the crunchy cookies are flavored with anise and almonds, but bakers have developed other types over the years.