Cantuccini or Almond Biscotti is a traditional almond cookie originating from the Italian province of Prato, near Florence. They are baked twice, first as a long loaf and are then sliced into smaller diagonal pieces which are then baked the second time making them hard and crunchy but also enabling them to last a long time, well maybe not at our place ;-)!
In Italy, it is a standing tradition to dip cantuccini in wine called Vin Santo to soften them up a bit before eating although it is also now popular to dunk them in coffee or hot choco instead. As for us, we like it just the way it is, rock-hard and all.
While we were in Italy last year, we were addicted to these delicious, jaw-breaking biscuits. We brought some packs home with us but once they were gone, the craving started. Good thing, Armin’s colleague can get some in an Italian food store near his place and so he became our supplier. It took us a bit while to get over them… and then we went back to Italy last June and back to old habits. So finally, I decided to give making our own cantuccini a go and I am so happy I did! I can’t believe how easy it is. Ok, the mixing of the dough is a bit of a muscle work but what is a little workout before indulging in these Italian treats..right!?
Although almonds are traditionally used for cantuccini, other nuts can also be substituted or added just like what I did with my first-ever attempt at making them, I added some brazil nuts in them…yum!
Cantuccini (Italian Almond Cookies)
- 2.1 ounces butter - - softened at room temperature
- 1/2 pound sugar
- 2 eggs
- lemon zest - from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 14 ounces flour
- 11/2 teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup almonds with skin - (and) or other nuts
- 3 tablespoons liquor like rum - or some drops of rum aroma (optional)
- In a big bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, lemon juice and zest and beat until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until a sticky dough is formed. Add the nuts and liquor and mix until well distributed.
- Turn out the dough in a floured surface and divide into 3 portions. Roll each portion into a long log about 2-inch in diameter and transfer them to the baking sheet leaving some room in between logs. Lightly press each log with your hand to flatten them a bit (height about 1.25 inch).
- Bake at 180 C/ 350 F for 20 minutes or until they are slightly golden. Remove sheet from oven and using a sharp serrated knife, cut the logs into smaller diagonal slices about three-quarter to one inch wide.
- Return the cookies to the baking sheet cut side up and bake again for 5-7 minutes or just until the sides are slightly golden, do not over-bake or they will become too hard.
- Store in airtight containers and enjoy!