All over Italy, meals are often finished with an espresso and a little cantucci or biscotti biscuit on the side. These are so easy to make and they store really well so that you can keep them on hand for times when you’re entertaining impromptu or just want a little treat with your morning or afternoon caffe’. The idea of Italian biscotti is that they are cooked twice so that they become quite crisp and ideal for dipping. If you were to dip a cookie in your coffee it would crumble into your espresso cup but the the cantucci just soaks up all the liquid and the chocolate chunks slightly melt and you have a bite of heaven. In Tuscany they often serve cantucci to dip in Vin Santo or a dessert wine, which is also a delicious way to finish a meal.
This is my personal recipe that I’ve been making with my mother for years. I decided to include it in my black and white series Amore Al Dente in the episode ‘Love At First Bite’, where her cooking prompts him to ask her on a first date. I can’t promise guaranteed seduction but I have to say that these are so simple to make you can certainly impress a potential lover who pops over for a coffee. 😉
Be sure to remember the step where you turn all the cantucci on their side for the second bake so that they take that golden colour on all sides.
INGREDIENTS & METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. In a large bowl cream 250g softened butter with 1 cup brown sugar. Add 3 lightly beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, finely chopped zest and juice of 1 orange, 1 cup coarsely chopped chocolate, 1 cup chopped almonds. Mix 1 teaspoon baking powder with 2 cups plain flour and sift into mixture. Mix until combined.
Divide the mixture and layer on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray in logs the width of your hand. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until firm but not golden. Remove from oven and slice along each log the width of two fingers. Turn each biscuit on its side to crisp the middle and return the tray to oven for no more than 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack if you like your cantucci particularly crisp.