ALMOND COOKIES, THE TUSCAN CANTUCCI

ALMOND COOKIES, THE TUSCAN CANTUCCI

These almond cookies are the quintessence of Tuscan food. They are extremely simple, and the goodness of this recipe relies on the choice of quality ingredients.
I always make them on a wooden board because I love the sensation of working with dough, even if it is easier to use a food processor.
It likely began as a bread-like dough, a natural sourdough that was at the foundation of all European cakes, enriched with eggs and honey or very expensive cane sugar and almonds, which were introduced to Italy by the Arabs, whose presence or contact was constant for centuries.
This is a common recipe in Western culture, with some differences due to regional variations, but these cookies are very popular, known as biscotti in North America, probably imported by Italian immigrants. The recipe is very similar all over Italy: in Sicily they are simply called almond biscotti, pepatelli in a more rustic version in the Southern region of Molise, but here the recipe is even closer to what must have been popular during the Middle Ages thanks to the presence of black pepper, orange zest, honey, and no baking powder.
I particularly love the Tuscan version because it offers a lactose-free dessert for my guests, and they are very low-fat, perfect if you need sugar to burn immediately.

Cantucci
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Yields: Makes 90 pieces.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (3⅓ cups) pastry flour
  • 400 g (2 cups) white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) Vin Santo
  • 15 g (1½ tbsp) baking powder
  • 300 g (2 cups) unpeeled whole almonds

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F)
Knead all the ingredients together and shape into 4 rolls about 30 cm (12 inches) long, and 5 cm (2 inches) wide. Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them for 30 minutes. When cool, slice the logs diagonally. Spread the slices out and bake for 10 minutes.

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About the Author

Growing up in Emilia Romagna, a region known for Parmesan, Parma ham, lasagna, and filled pasta, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and mother.

Even at a very young age, I could see that for them cooking was a passionate expression of their love for their family. While I’m filled with many warm memories of watching them cook, what I remember most is circling the table and watching the stove, waiting for any opportunity I could to steal a taste.