Desserts: Cakes, Biscuits, Treats, Jams Italian Regional Recipes

Cantucci Toscani

Cantucci, sometimes called with the endearing term of cantuccini, are dry almond biscuits typical of the city of Prato, in Tuscany. They are essentially toasted slices of sweet bread dough mixed with almonds. In Lazio and in Umbria, regions that border with Tuscany, the cantucci are called tozzetti and usually prepared with hazelnuts instead of almonds.
The original term biscotti, which now simply means biscuits in every day Italian, originally refers to the specific baking method needed to make cantucci: bis-cotti means cooked twice.
The first documented recipe for cantucci dates back to the 18th century; they are usually served as a dessert, meant to be soaked in a good glass of sweet wine.

Makes: 20 biscuits | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins

  • Italian White flour 00/ All Purpose flour: 300 g
  • Almonds, not peeled: 200 g
  • Sugar: 150 g
  • Butter, unsalted: 30 g
  • Eggs: 2
  • Egg yolks: 2
  • Dried yeast for sweets: 10 g
  • Anise seeds: 1tbsp
  • Honey: 1 tbsp
  • Orange zest: of 1 medium-sized orange
  • A pinch of salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Take half the almonds and roughly chop them up.

Put the cut almonds and the ones left whole in a bowl and mix them together with the flour, the sugar, the dried yeast, the anise seeds, the orange zest, the honey, the eggs, 1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt.

Knead the dough until it had a homogeneous texture. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Gently brush the loaf with the second egg yolk mixed with a bit of water. Bake the loaf for 20 mins.

Take the loaf out of the oven and immediately cut it in diagonal slices, about 2 cm thick. It’s important to cut the loaf when it is still hot: if you let it cool down, it will dry up and become too firm to be cut.

Make sure that each slice has plenty of space on the baking tray, and put them back in the oven to 180°C for other 10 mins.

As soon as Cantucci are well toasted, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool down before serving. The cantucci are traditionally enjoyed by dipping them individually in dessert wine.

Tip: The traditional dessert wine used in Tuscany is called Vin Santo. Other alternatives that make for a good pairing with the cantucci are Prosecco and Marsala.

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