Cantuccini are crunchy biscuits from Tuscany with almonds. Biscuits, known as Biscotti in Italy, come in several shapes and sizes with each region having its own speciality. Local regional produce is often incorporated into the biscuits, that is why most biscotti in the South feature pistachios and those in in the north are studded with Hazelnuts. Cantuccini are dipped in sweet wine instead of coffee and are offered at almost every restaurant in the Tuscan region.
I like to think of Cantuccini as a cross between two popular Pakistani/Indian biscuits. ‘Nan Khatai’ a shortbread biscuit studded with almonds and the crunchy breakfast favourite ‘Cake Rusk’. However unlike the aforementioned variety, Cantuccini are made without any oil or butter.
Traditionally Cantuccini contain whole unpeeled almonds but you can create your own variations by replacing the almonds with hazelnuts, cranberries, dried apricots, pistachios or any other dry fruit your prefer.
Biscotti means twice cooked and that is the trick for making Cantuccini super crunchy. The Cantuccini dough is first baked in the form of a loaf till it is golden brown. After cooling it for around 10 minutes, the loaf is cut into 1.5” thick slanted slices and baked again. After their second time in the oven the Cantuccini dry out and become crusty. After your Cantuccini are done cooling on a wire rack, store them in an airtight jar up to several weeks.
- All Purpose Flour 2 cups
- Granulated Sugar 3/4 cup
- Baking Powder 1 teaspoon
- Lemon Zest 1 teaspoon
- Honey 1 tablespoon
- Almond or Vanilla Extract 1/2 teaspoon
- Eggs 2; lightly whisked
- Whole Unpeeled Almonds 1 cup
Preheat your oven to 180 C. In a mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients i.e. flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. Mix gently using a spatula. Then add all the wet ingredients, honey, almond or vanilla extract and eggs. Using the spatula mix everything together until it forms a crumbly dough. Don’t worry if the dough seems dry, it will eventually hold together when you start kneading.
Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and using your hands knead till everything comes together in a soft dough. Using slightly wet hands shape the dough into two logs. Place both logs on a baking tray lined with butter paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the logs are golden brown. Remove both logs from oven and allow them to cool on a cutting board for around 10 minutes.
Using a sharp knife cut both logs diagonally into 1/2″ thick slices. Place biscuit slices on tray and bake again for around 10 minutes or until Cantuccini are dry and crunchy. Cool Cantuccini on a wire rack before storing in an air tight jar.
Traditionally Cantuccini are dipped in a dessert wine but you can also serve them with tea or coffee.
Traditional recipe for Canticcinis doesn’t call for oilnor butter. If you prefer a softer, crumblier texture add 2 tbsp. melted butter and reduce the baking time by 5 minutes.