Adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food, one of my favourite American cookery books.
Cantucci are made to last a long time so the dough has no perishable fats that could go rancid (oil, butter, etc.), so if anyone is trying to pass off cantucci containing any fat other than eggs, they're not cantucci! These are also known as biscotti (biscuits) outside Italy/Europe. But really, they're a specific biscotti from Prato. Regardless, they come together in no time and are very versatile... delicious with pine nuts or any other nut, raisins, chocolate shavings, etc.
They're supposed to be very dry, and are usually enjoyed dipped into coffee or a sweet dessert wine - traditionally Vin Santo - when they soften a bit, making them bite-able.
Chocolate Almond Cantucci (Biscotti)
Makes 2-3 dozen biscuits, depending on the size of the loaf and thickness of slices
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp almond or vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp citrus zest (lemon or any type of orange)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until just fragrant, about 7 min.
- In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla (or almond) extract, and zest until the mixture falls in a nice ribbon (3-4 min.).
- Mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and fold the almonds into the dough (it will be a very stiff batter rather than a dough).
- On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, divide the dough into two portions. Shape into 3-4 in. wide logs using moistened hands so it doesn't stick. The dough will spread a bit so space logs at least 3-4 in. apart. Re-moisten hands as needed and smoothen out any lumps or unevenness in the logs.
- Bake until just firm, 25-30 min. Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 min. (If baked or cooled for too long the logs might harden, making it difficult to slice them so do keep and eye on the time).
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F/150 C.
- Remove each cooled log from the parchment and set on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut log into diagonal slices, about 1/2 in. thick Lay the slices on the baking sheet - they can be quite close together, don't need to be spaced (use two baking sheets if needed, although I have never needed to do that).
- Bake cut cantucci for 10 min., then flip onto the other side and bake another 10-15 minutes until crisp.
- Enjoy with a coffee, espresso, or a dessert wine. The crumbs from cutting the biscuits are terrific on ice-cream!