Italian Food and Flavours
Cantuccini: Almond Biscotti
Cantuccini : Almond Biscotti
Here is a simple, fun recipe for a typical Italian cantuccini almond biscotti. They make a perfect gift and these crunchy biscuits are yummy dunked in a sweet desert wine, vino cotto or a cup of coffee.
All of us at Italian Food and Flavours are in the midst of preparing for Christmas. Chef Fabio is fine tuning his Christmas and New Year’s menu – a feast for the taste buds. Rupert is London bound. Jo and me (Debby) are looking forward to a family Christmas, mixing up the food with Italian/English and in my case also German influences.
Neighbours have begun to drop by with foodie gifts. In Italy the Christmas food box is a popular gift. One can go to a local store or a large supermarket, select a wicker or cardboard basket, fill it with goodies and get it wrapped in acres of cellophane. One of my favourites is a basket of beautifully packaged pasta from Cossignano fresh pasta shop – featuring a bundle of cappelletti shapes. These are traditionally served as a Christmas primi cooked in brodo (broth). In English cappellitti means little hats and they do kind of resemble them. They are a bit fiddly to make yourself and with a good pasta shop in almost every village here – well who really needs to ?
Cantuccini, on the other hand are easy to make and finish off an Italian christmas meal wonderfully dipped into a sweet wine or a glass of local vino cotto. That’s after the slice of panettone of course! You can ring the changes with them and add your own twist with flavours such as cinnamon, lemon and orange zest or in my case a few finely chopped dried figs. They are a twice baked biscotti and even if they crumble a little when slicing after the first bake their rustic, homemade appearance still looks great. If they looked too perfect then people would think you had purchased them.
I enjoy making my gift hampers full of homemade Christmasy treats. A few cantuccini in a clear bag with a christmas ribbon or in a jar always form part of the hamper, alongside a jar of fig jam, a pickle , some of our olive oil and maybe a few walnuts scattered in. I have tried tempting my Italian neighbours with mince pies but not sure they went down that well. Cantuccini are for me a safer option!
Cantuccini : Almond Biscotti
- 250g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 180g caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 25g butter, melted and cooled
- 2 eggs
- 175g almonds, coarsely chopped
Mix the flour with baking powder, then add sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Make a hollow in the middle.
Pour the butter and eggs into it and knead to a dough.
Knead in the chopped almonds and any other spices or flavourings you are using.
Form the dough to a ball, adding more flour if necessary. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and preheat oven to 200 C / Gas 6.
Cut dough into 6 pieces and shape each into a 25cm log. Arrange logs on a baking tray, leaving enough space for them to spread whilst cooking. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.
Allow them to cool a little, then cut into 1cm slices. Lay on a baking tray and bake for another 8-10 minutes at 200 C / Gas 6 until golden-brown.
Cantuccini : Almond biscotti