Cantucci are Tuscan dipping cookies. They’re also known as biscotti in other regions of Italy as well as here in the U.S. I learned how to make these almond studded beauties from Chef Claudio Piantini last October during our travels in Tuscany, when my husband and I took a private cooking class with the Chef (for further information on cooking with Chef Claudio, see my article in the March 2016 issue of the Essex Fells Magazine).
While some cantucci are made without butter or oil, and most are twice baked, Chef Claudio’s recipe uses butter and is baked only once. They are crisp, subtly sweet and buttery.
This recipe for cantucci is simple with just a few ingredients, and the dough comes together quickly with an electric mixer. Believe it or not, my husband first made these by hand (no electric mixer), under the tutelage of Chef Claudio. Although I have written the recipe for use with an electric mixer, feel free to use your hands to make the dough.
Cantucci are traditionally served at the end of a meal with a glass of Tuscan dessert wine known as Vin Santo. Make sure to have some cantucci at the conclusion of a long Italian meal, or any great meal, for that matter, and…don’t forget to dip them in the sweet late harvest wine.
- ½ stick or 4 tablespoons butter (room temperature)
- scant 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups Italian “00” flour*
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup almonds, chopped coarsely**
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
Before you begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Beat the butter for a minute until smooth and softened. Add the sugar and beat for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder, then add to the dough in two or three additions and beat on low speed until just mixed in. Fold in the almonds.
Place the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet and form into a log about 1 inch high and 14 inches long. Beat well one egg and 1 tablespoon water, then brush on the log. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a minute or two, then cut into 3/8 inch to ½ inch slices.
Makes 14 to 16 cantucci
Notes: *You should be able to locate “00” at your Italian market. If not available, you can order Antimo Caputo Chef’s 00 flour on amazon.com.
All purpose flour can be substituted.
**I like to keep the almonds whole, for the pretty visual of the almond when the cantucci are sliced. Since the dough is stiff, it is hard to get the whole almonds mixed in. The whole almonds may require you to work them into the dough by hand and press some of them into the log.