Cantucci is a term coined by the Tuscans following the creation of biscotti. These almond biscuits originated in the Roman Empire and disappeared until the Renaissance in the Tuscan city of Prato. Cantucci comes from the old Italian word Cantuccio (“little place'”) but was often used to describe little bread or crust. Join Maria, resident chef at Villa d'Elsa, in the kitchen as she brings you her recipe for Cantucci (Italian Almond Biscotti).
The almond aroma of Cantucci is the main appeal; their pure, nutty flavour is sweetened with sugar for a delicious biscuit with unique flavouring. The formidable crunch of these biscuits making them perfect for dunking. While coffee would resonate with most people for this, the Tuscans add their own flair by favouring the dipping of Vin Santo, their holy sweet wine.
Cantucci (Italian Almond Biscotti)
Makes around 48 biscuits - Cook in 60 minutes
- 210g almonds, whole
- 500g all-purpose flour
- 300g sugar, white or brown
- 3 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (°C) and line the bottom of a baking pan with parchment paper. Toast the almonds in a non-stick frying pan for around 10 minutes, remove from heat and leave to cool.
Place the flour in a large bowl, create a well in the centre, add the sugar, two whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Gradually draw the flour from inside the walls of the well and combine the flour with the other ingredients, adding the almonds halfway through. You can begin with a wooden spoon, but once the dough thickens, it is best to use your hands to work the dough.
Knead the dough until all the ingredients are mixed, dusting your hands now and then so the mixture doesn’t stick. Shape the dough into two logs (around 2 inches wide and ½ inch high) and place them separated on the baking pan. Brush the logs with the remaining egg, place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, but still soft.
Move the logs onto a cutting board and while hot, cut diagonally into thick slices (½ inch thick). Leave the cantucci to harden as they cool on the rack or if you prefer your biscotti harder, place them in the oven for another 10 minutes. These hard, dry biscotti make a wonderful dessert, dipped into Vinsanto or your choice of dessert wine. Buon Appetito!