Are you looking for an Italian, light, healthy and fashion dessert? Cantucci are your solution!
If you happened to visit Tuscany (or if you simply heard about it) you know that as many other Italian regions it has a rich culinary tradition, made of many delicious foods: olive oil, wine, cured meat and sweets, to quote some.
Among the sweets (or desserts) are very famous the cantucci toscani, typical crunchy almond cookies (similar to the Sicilian “quaresimali”) to be eaten at the end of the meal.
Cantuccini have a distinctive shape, almost perfect, due to the fact that the cookie itself is cut after the dough – baked whole in the shape of a loaf – has cooled down. After the cut, the cookies are re-cooked for a few minutes, which gives them the classic brown colour.
An ancient history, always fashion!
Despite having an ancient history, the original cantucci (also called cantuccini biscuits or biscotti di Prato), resist to the fashions of modern times and have gained the IGP label as “cantuccini toscani IGP” o “cantucci toscani IGP” in 2016.
The local producers, that still follow the original cantuccini recipe, are reunited in the “Assocantuccini” union, with the purpose of promoting and protecting this italian specialty.
However, cantucci have a centuries-old history: despite the first written historical testimony can be found in a manuscript from the XVIII century, they were already consumed and appreciated by Caterina de’ Medici and her court in the XVI century.
Today, you can find cantuccini biscuits delighting families especially during Christmas time, but you can also eat them along the rest of the year.
As per tradition, they should be drawn in liquorous wines – as Vin Santo wine – at the end of the meal, but they are also perfect alone, to have a delicious break snack throughout the day or to be eaten with tea and coffee.
Also, you can find many creative variations of them, depending on local taste or tradition: for example cantucci with pistachios and chocolate drops, cantuccini with orange and hazelnuts, or cacao based cantuccini biscuits with cinnamon powder.
The original cantucci biscotti recipe
You can’t wait anymore to know the recipe of cantucci toscani? Below, I will show you step by step how to make homemade perfect and crunchy cantucci! For this preparation – without butter – I have followed the cantuccini recipe passed on to me by my mother in law.
To facilitate the execution, I give you the same advice she gave me: to use a wide working surface, always well floured.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Ingredients for 30-35 cantucci
- 250 g flour 00
- 220 g sugar
- 300 g unpeeled almonds
- 2 bio eggs
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 sachet of vanillin (or a teaspoon of extract)
- Lemon zest
- 1 pinch of salt
Instructions to make cantuccini biscuits
1. Arrange flour, sugar and eggs in a heap shape on a work surface and, starting from the center, stir with a spoon going from the inside to the outside.
2. After about a minute, continue to knead with your hands, adding the grated lemon zest, the vanilla and the salt. Keep kneading until the dough becomes homogeneous (5-10 min).
3. Remember to flour your hands and work surface often to help you knead.
4. When the mixture is homogeneous, incorporate the almonds. To make this step easier, you can roll out the dough with a rolling pin, sprinkle the almonds on the dough and close it back by rolling.
If the almonds slip out of the dough, don’t give up! Continuing to mix gently with your hands you can incorporate them one by one, pushing them into the dough.
5. When the almonds are well incorporated in the dough, form a narrow and long roll with the help of your hands. Then divide it into four to form four separate rolls, also narrow (5-7cm) and long, with a thickness of 2-2.5 cm.
6. Arrange the rolls on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake the cantuccini in a preheated oven at 165 degrees for 15 minutes and then at 180 degrees for ten minutes.
7. Once cooked, let them cool for 15 minutes and cut the cantucci with a sharp knife, with a thickness of about 1.5 – 2 cm, giving the cut a clean blow.
8. Turn the cookies upside down and bake them in the oven for 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the oven and let cool.
How to store home-made cantucci
The secret to perfectly store cantuccini biscuits lies in their crunchiness: if well sealed, for example in a tin or in an airtight container or jar, they can be kept for up to 30 days.
But be careful: if they become soft due to humidity, they can no longer be consumed.
Buon appetito with cantucci toscani! Enjoy these biscuits in Tuscany with Italia Delight