Cantuccini- Italian Almond Biscotti |TWD

Cantuccini are Italian almond biscotti from Tuscany, or more specifically the town of Prata. They are also known as biscottini di Prato.

Biscotti, the Latin word from which the English ‘biscuit’ is derived, means “twice baked” (‘bis’ Latin for twice and “coctum’ for baked). It is a generic name for any Italian cookie. These are characteristically crisp and crunchy cookies with an elongated shape. They can be both sweet or savory. You could also go with a variety of filling options, nuts lIke almonds, pistachio or even cashewnuts. You could add lemon or orange zest to the dough. Dried cranberries or cherries work great too. I would not mind some with chocolate chips!!

close up of cantucciniBiscotti was traditionally meant to be travel food for the Roman soldiers, which meant that they had to ‘keep’ well. To achieve this, they were baked first in a log form to cook them and then cut into smaller pieces and baked again to dry out the moisture so that they could be stored for a long time without spoiling.

Surprisingly. Biscotti will keep fresh for several months, when stored in an airtight container, though it contains no preservatives.

Originally, cantuccini were made without any leavening (rising) agent. The modern recipes include baking powder, yeast or baking soda.

This was the first time I was making Biscotti and the  recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s ” Baking with Julia”, is as easy as can be.

These contain almonds and cinnamon and are mildly sweet.

There is no fat in the dough (except what is there in the egg) and this makes them deliciously crunchy….. and also low in calories.

I made one-third of the recipe since my husband does not eat eggs and there is only so much I can consume :-). I do intend to try making an egg free version though.

My thoughts on the recipe:

The dough came together in less than five minutes and then all it needed was to be baked (twice!!). A word of warning though, the dough is quite wet and sticky. I followed the advise of a fellow baker and wet my hands with water and then shaped it into a log.

As the baking powder is the leavening agent, make sure it is fresh.

I used vanilla extract but you could also use almond extract (a few drops).

Though the original recipe used unblanched almonds, I blanched them. For no other reason than that I am somewhat challenged when it comes to reading and following recipes and invariably end up doing something wrong. In this case though, it was nothing that actually led to a disaster! Though I wish I could have saved myself the trouble!! (Kick, kick. And make sure you READ the recipe carefully BEFORE jumping in the next time!).

They are not very sweet, which for me makes them perfect!!  However, if you prefer them sweeter, add some more sugar to the dough. You could also use brown sugar which is what I plan to do the next time.

biscotti with teaThe perfect accompaniment to biscotti is vin santo, a delicious Italian dessert wine. But they go very well dunked into a cup of tea or coffee. Or even Indian chai as evident from the picture above. As the contributing baker Nick Malgieri says, “No matter the libation, they’re meant to be dipped.”

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and bake some right away.

Cantuccini- Italian Almond Biscotti |TwD

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

About 10 medium cantuccini

Cantuccini- Italian Almond Biscotti |TwD

This is a very easy recipe from "Baking with Julia" by Dorie Greenspan

The cantuccini is crisp with a hint of sweetness.

For the Cantuccini:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used castor sugar)
2/3 tsp baking powder
Less than 1/4 tsp cinnamon
A pinch salt
1/2 cup unbleached whole almonds (I blanched and removed the skin)
1 large egg
A little over 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 175 C/ 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a rubber spatula to mix. Stir in the almonds.
Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl, then stir them into the flour mixture.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead, folding it over onto itself until it is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
With wet hands, shape the dough into a log 2" wide and 1" high.
First baking:
Place on the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes and flip over the side (this ensures that both sides brown).
Continue baking for another 10 minutes till it has slightly risen and is firm to the touch.
Slide the log, parchment and all, off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack.
The log must be completely cool before you can continue with the recipe.
Since this will take about 30 minutes to cool, you can either turn the oven off or leave it on for the next step.
You can bake the biscotti up to this point several days ahead. Wrap the log well in plastic and continue when it’s convenient.
Second baking:
When the log has cooled completely, preheat the oven to 175 C/ 350 F, if necessary.
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working with a sharp serrated knife, cut the cooled log diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices.
Place the sliced cookies cut side down on the pans and bake for 15 -20 minutes, or until the biscotti are crisp and golden. Cool on the pans.
Storing - These biscotti will keep for up to a month in an airtight tin or plastic container.

Currently the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking from “Baking with Julia” based on Julia Child’s television series of the same name.

The original recipe can be found here or on pages 313-314 of the book.

Do drop by and check out the biscotti baked by fellow members of TWD.


Cantuccini- Italian Almond Biscotti |TWD — 12 Comments

  1. These look perfect, Let me know when you try eggless version, I have been thinking of making eggless too.

  2. you put a lot of useful information in the post! honestly, i think the wetness of the dough is completely dependent on the size of the eggs. although most eggs are marked large, i promise you there is a pretty good range in the sizes of large eggs. my dough was not wet at all, it was a bit sticky but still easy to work with. your cantuccini came out beautiful!

  3. I too went with a third of the recipe – only because I had only one egg. Oops. I swear I had more. Good job on your cantuccini.

  4. Glad you liked these too- wasn’t it easy?!? Thanks for all the background information on cantuccini- love it.

  5. I’m glad you’re feeling better. I love the idea of dipping these in Chai tea, I’ve been making it a lot lately.

  6. Your cookies look great. I didn’t get to make them because I was sick last week. But I did buy the almonds (though now that I think of it, they are blanched). Hmm.

  7. they look great! I’m like you—I made 1/3 of the recipe and I used blanched almonds (I didn’t even notice until I read your post that it called for unblanched…hehe).

  8. Yes—-reading a recipe all the way through before beginning is always a good idea. I’ve gotten myself into trouble that way several times before! Oops!