Monday, January 15, 2007


In order to change things a little and not to fall into a routine, I made some "Cantuccini" for Christmas. I had eaten them a few times before, but had never baked such cookies for the end of year celebrations. Since I love those biscotti an awful lot, it was a good occasion for me to get active in the kitchen in order to make a few for me as well as for my gift baket...

"Cantuccini" ("Cantucci" or "Biscotti Di Prato") are traditional Italian almond biscotti from Firenze, the capital city of Tuscany. They are twice-baked cookies which are meant to keep long, therefore they are of a harder nature.

At the origin, they were flavored with aniseeds, but now, many variants are
to be found (with chocolate, candied orange or lemon, raisins/currants, dried cranberries, nuts of all kinds, different types of flour, etc...), whether sweet or savory. It is a very popular bakery item all over Italy and is also widely spread in Europe or in the US where many different recipes can be found.

Those "Cantuccini" were are real succe
ss both for the baker (me) and the gourmet eaters that were the happy recipient of my parcel! They were crunchy to the perfection, not overly sweet, beautifully nutty and had a delicious amaretto flavor (although the extract used doesnt originate from the same almond). Because of their hard texture, "Cantuccini" are ideal for biscuit dunkers, because they can be dipped in coffee, milk, alcohol or any other beverage in order to soften them. Those wonderful cookies will delight all foodies in search of a delicate treat to end the afternoon or dinner in beauty...

This recipe comes from a
dainty little book that I'm proud of possessing and that I recommend to anyone interested in cookies, brownies, bars, scones and more: "Afternoon Delights" by James McNair & Andrew Moore.

Makes about 1 dozen large biscotti.

2 Cups Plain white flour

1 Cup Castor sugar

2 Tsp Baking powder

1/4 Tsp Salt

3 Eggs (~50g), lightly beaten

1 Tsp Almond extract

1 Cup Almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 150° C (300° F).

2 Line a baking tray with kitchen parchment.

3. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk to mix well.

4. Mix together the beaten eggs with the almond extract.
5. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix well with a spoon.
6. Stir in the toasted nuts.

7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Dust your
hands with flour and gently knead it until it comes together, about 1 minute.
8. Transfer the dough to the lined baking tray and shape (with floured hands) into an even, flat rectangle about 15x23 centimeters (6 by 9 inches).
9. Transfer the baking tray to the oven (middle rack) and bake
until the dough is lightly golden and feels firm when lightly touched in the center with your fingertip, about 50 minutes.

10. Remove the baking tray to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes.
11. Peel the dough rectangle from the parchment and transfer it to a cut
ting board.
12. Return the parchment to the baking tray and set aside.

13. Using a serrated knife, slice the rectangle into slices 2 centimeters wide (3/4 inches).

14. Lay the slices (with one of their cut side
down), about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) apart on the lined baking tray.
15. Return the baking tray to the oven and bake until the exposed cut sides of the slices are golden, about 20 minutes.

16. Then, turn the biscotti over, return the baking tray to the o
ven, and continue baking until the other exposed sides of the biscotti are golden, about 20 minutes.
17. Remove the baking tray to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes.

18. When the biscotti are cool enough to handle, transfer them directly to the rack to cool completely.

Instead of almonds, you can use hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts or any other nuts as long as you toast them first and replace the almond extract by 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.
To toast the nuts: place them on a baking tray and transfer to a
n oven that has been preheated to 190° C (350° F) and toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Once you've added the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and s
tarted mixing, the dough will be crumbly.
The kneaded dough should be sticky.

As the dough bakes, it will spread into a large, rounded rectangle.
The biscotti may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Serving suggestions:
Eat accompanied by Vin Santo, a tight expresso, ristretto or coffee.

(Florence -Pic by Spiros Vagelakis


  1. Very nice ! , what shell we bake for tomorrow ?... *
    The new Blogger is great do you use it ? (I love your lables too); I can't switch yet (gut an error message ..and I'm not alone);
    * 2 new recipes for tomorrow..:-)

  2. I love these kinds of cookies. I'm always ready to sit down with one and a hot cup of coffee. Perfect!

  3. Rosa,

    I have this cookbook as well and I just love it! Beautiful cantuccini!

  4. ciao signorina bella rosa ;P

    ca fait longtemps maintenant (depuis les annes 80s, je pense) qu'on voit ca ici chez moi dans les cafes. il y a beaucoup de varietes mais je les prefere prepares sans les fruits secs. je les aime avec les noix de pistaches surtout enrobe au chocolat d'un cote! :)) tu sais, on a les memes biscuits qui s'apellent "mandelbrot/broit ou komishbrot/broit" qui sont prepares de la meme maniere. j'imagine qu'ils etaient tres populaires a cause de leurs conservation (completement sec).

    we love them! :)) i like your recipe as it's nice and plain. were they easy to cut? sometimes they can be difficult depending on the recipe.

  5. SHER: Thanks, Sher! Yes, good homemade food is always better that what one can find in stores and those biscotti are no exception ;-P...

    CHANIT: Ha, ha ;-D! I baked griddle cakes (like scones baked in a frying pan) and you? Will be do the same this time?...
    The new blogger is great. I already have it but my templates still have to get updated and that terrifies me because certain things can change :-&! I could also not switch straight away, but blogger did it quite rapidly...
    Have fun baking!

    NATALIA: Thanks for the visit and the comment! Yes, those biscotti are simply perfect!...

    IVONNE: Thanks, Ivonne! I saw the link on your blog. I tried most of the recipes and never had any kind of problem. The results were always very good/perfect!

    BUREKABOY: Ciao et merci, BB!!! Ici, je n'en ai jamais vu dans les cafés. Tu as bien de la chance de vivre dans un endroit qui offre autant de bonnes choses! Je pense aussi que je les préfère avec les noix, mais je n'ai pas encore testé l'autre version (fruits secs). Mmmmhh, avec des pistaches et enrobés de chocolat ;-P!
    Oui, il me semblait bien que les "Mandelbrot" étaient des biscotti. Je m'en suis rendue compte en lisant mon livre de Joan Nathan...
    They were very easy to cut (like butter). Try this recipe, you'll not be deceived!

  6. These sound great, Rosa! I've never made biscotti, but grew up eating homemade Mandelbrot (which are very similar), so I'd really like to try making these, especially since you say tey cut so easily.

  7. LADY AMALTHEA: Thanks, Lady A.!
    I highly recommend you to try those biscotti as they are easy to make and so delicious! Yes, Mandelbrot is quite similar (I've never made that speciality)...

  8. je viens d'en faire au cacao et noix de cajou torréfiées .C'est delicieux!!
    Ta recette ressemble à la mienne et je pense que c'est la meilleur pour l' avoir faite plusieurs fois .

  9. LILI63: Merci pour ta visite et ton petit mot bien gentil! Ta version doit sûrement être délicieuse... Oui, je trouve que c'est une très bonne recette.

  10. It's my first time I've been here: nice blog Rosa!!! I also love Cantuccini with a glass of my Recioto di Soave, that's a particular kind of Italian passito wine different from Vin Santo.
    Bye for now!

  11. Ahhh, la toscane...quelle merveille!

  12. VAL: Thanks for the kind comment and the visit! I'm glad that you like my blog :-D. Cantuccini are delicious...

    LORY: Malheureusement, je n'y suis jamais allée ;-(...

  13. Ces biscuits avec le "vin Santo", sont un délice!!

  14. hehe i love cantuccio, specially with vin santo. i had no idea how it was made. thanks for the recipe.
    If you want to take a look at my blog you will be more than welcome