Watch two videos:
Ieri sera abbiamo preparato i cantucci or cantuccini.
- There are two variations: i cantucci di Siena (with butter, more crumbly) e quelli di Prato (vicino a Firenze).
- I cantucci di Prato are also known as biscotti di Prato, or in the U.S. simply as biscotti.
- Biscotti means “cooked twice”: bis is the Latin prefix for twice (at the end of a concert we usually shout bis!!! instead of encore) and cotti (cooked).
- I cantucci are indeed baked twice. However, in Italia usiamo the word biscotti for any sorts of cookies, including those that bake only once, like chocolate chip cookies.
- The recipe below is adapted from una ricetta di mia zia Mariolina.
(This amount is for a couple of baking sheets of cantucci):
- 680 g = 1 1/2 lb di farina bianca
- 1 cucchiaio di lievito istantaneo/baking powder
- 680 g = 1 1/2 lbs di miele/honey/ [if you do not like honey, you can instead add 2 eggs or some melted butter or extra virgin olive oil and 100g, about 1/2 cup of sugar. You would only need a little butter or oil- just enough to keep to dough together.]
- 4 (quattro) uova
- 100 g di zucchero
- 680 g = 1 1/2 lbs di mandorle intere/whole almonds, with skin
[you can substitute le mandorle with chopped dark chocolate or uvetta, raisins or make a mix of the three. You may also try to use nocciole/hazelnuts]
- la buccia grattuggiata di un’arancia/grated zest of one orange—you can use lemon as well.
- Optional: you can add some spices, such as vanilla, or fennel seeds, cinnamon, a little nutmeg …
- Preheat il forno (oven) to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F. Cover the baking sheet/teglia with parchment paper/carta da forno.
- In a very large ciotola/bowl, place the flour mixed with the baking powder.
- Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the honey, using a spatula or your fingers/le tue dita to gently mix as you pour.
- In a small ciotola, briefly mix the eggs and the sugar with a whisk. Add the orange zest.
- Again, make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour into it the egg andsugar mixture. Mescola con le mani/with your hands or with a rubber spatula for a few minutes.
- Aggiungi the almonds and mescola for a few more minutes. The dough will be soft, rough, and sticky.
- Take some of the dough in your hands and place it sulla teglia. Press the dough to form a log the length of the baking sheet, 1-1.5 cm (~1/2") thick and 5 cm (~2") wide. Ideally, you should try to shape it such that the center is a little bit thicker. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly brown.
- Remove the logs from the baking sheets and place them on a cutting board. Cut each log in 0.5 cm (~1/4") pieces. If you want you can cut them on a slight diagonal.
- Place these pieces back on the baking sheets leaning one of the cut sections against the bottom of the sheet. Bake for approximately 10 more minutes per side.
- Remove from the oven. The cantuccini will become harder when they cool down.
We usually eat them dipped in a glass of Vin Santo (literally “holy wine”, a sweet dessert wine) … but you can dip them in milk
Note: once the cantucci are cooled, you can place them in tin cans and keep them for a long time. You can also freeze them.