Why Italian Almond Biscuits (Cantuccini)?
Despite being delicious, these Italian biscuits kept me entertained during the late nights while staying in Florence last year. Without realising it at the time I was enjoying these sweet dry almond biscuits like a true Tuscan – not with a coffee, but with cold sweet dessert wine, Vin Santo.
While in Florence my mother and I stayed at a little B&B situated on a back street in the heart of Florence. Late at night when I couldn’t drift off to sleep, I would creep out to the kitchenette taking a handful or two of these biscuits to enjoy with a glass of Vin Santo (bought at St Lorenzo Market) and listen to the bustle of the city.
Cantuccini are Italian biscotti style biscuits - meaning they are twice baked - traditionally from Prato (these biscuits are also known at Cantuccini di Prato). They can be sweet or savoury; flavoured popularly with almonds these days, but are also made with aniseed, rosemary, Vin Santo or saffron.
250g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
125g blanched whole almonds
1 egg yolk
25g melted butter
2 teaspoons amaretto
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place almonds on a lined baking tray and roast in oven for 5 – 10 minutes or until golden brown. Reserving half, place the almonds in a food processor and process until they are coarse.
In a mixer place the 2 whole eggs and caster sugar, whisking until pale and fluffy. Add the amaretto and slowly fold in the flour, butter baking powder and all the almonds.
Form the dough into 1 inch long logs, 1cm thick. Lay them out, well apart, on a lined baking try. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before brushing with the beaten egg yolk.
Bake 20- 30 minutes, or until golden on top. Leave to rest for 5 minutes to harden before cutting into 1 cm thick slices with a serrated knife. Place back on lined baking tray and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to brown and dry out.
Store, once cool in an airtight container and enjoy with Vin Santo, or if desired a coffee.
Makes 50 biscuits.