Christmas Cantucci


IMG_1645We had a lovely trip to Tuscany earlier on this year, during which time we spent a day with Bruna teaching us to cook some of the local dishes.  Alex fell in love with the Pici, but I thought the fresh cantucci were just great .  This recipe is my special Christmas version – if you want something more traditional, replace the pistachios with more almonds, the orange with lemon zest and omit the chocolate.

Cantucci are are a great Tuscan biscotti (‘twice baked’), traditionally served with a glass of Vin Santo in which to dunk them.  They work equally well with any spirit, or a cup of hot chocolate or coffee.  They are very dry after the second baking and store very well, for a long period of time.  Bagged up, they make great presents, so what better gift could you give this Christmas?

Having said all of that, they’re great eaten hot out of the oven after their initial bake (much more cookie-like), so if you can’t quite squeeze all of the slices onto the tray for their second bake, you’ve got an excuse to eat the surplus there and then  And as for their keeping abilities, I’ve never known them to hang around for more than a couple of days!

Ingredients

  • 125g Whole Almonds
  • 75g Pistachio Nuts
  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 200g Fine Semolina
  • 300g Castor Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • zest of 4 Clementines, or 2 Oranges
  • 180g Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa Solids), chopped, or use chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Eggs, beaten, plus egg for brushing
  • A little Icing Sugar

Method

  • Briefly roast off the almonds in an oven, 180oC Fan – do not burn
  • Meanwhile mix all of the remaining dry ingredients and zest in a large bowl with your hands
  • Mix in the almonds, then add the vanilla extract and eggs
  • Combine with your hands to form a stiff dough
  • Sprinkle a little icing sugar across the work surface
  • Take half of the dough and roll out on the icing sugar to form a log, about 30cm long, 6 cm across.  Repeat with the remaining dough
  • Place the logs onto a non-stick baking sheet, leaving room between each for spreading, and brush with the remaining egg to glaze
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – by then they should be cooked all the way through – hard on the outside but still soft in the middle
  • Remove from the tray and before it cools cut on the diagonal into 1.5cm slices with a sharp knife
  • Return the slices to the trays and continue to bake for another 3-4 minutes
  • Turn each slice and bake on the other side for another 3-4 minutes – they should be noticeably dry at this stage
  • Cool on wire racks

 

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Yum! What a perfect Christmas gift!

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