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Italy’s most famous biscuits: Cantuccini

There is no difference between biscotti and cantucci, since all biscuits are called biscotti in Italian, and the word biscotti means “twice-cooked”. Cantuccini are crunchy almond biscuits that originated in Tuscany.


In the old days, at the time of long journeys and warfare, people used to bake biscuits twice because they needed food that could be easily stored for longer periods of time. The word biscotti, in this sense, shares its origin with the British English word “biscuit”.

The first documented cantuccini recipe is dated around the eighteenth century and comes in form of a manuscript, currently kept in Prato, in which the biscuits are named Biscotti of Genoa. In Florence, they are called cantuccini di prato, after the famous bakery. It is also believed that Christopher Columbus used to carry them with him on his travels. Now, it’s time you discovered cantuccini, a very special kind of biscotti. They are twice-baked, dry and crunchy. For the Italians, dipping them in a drink, usually a dessert wine Vin Santo, is a must.

How are cantuccini made?

The original cantuccini mixture is composed exclusively of flour, sugar, eggs, and almonds, without any form of yeast or fat. The dough is then cooked twice, with the second baking defining how hard the biscotti are. Modern recipes often call for baking powder and spices. Against the rules, biscotti may also be dipped in chocolate. But don’t expect Italians to approve of that.

So, let’s say you want to make cantuccini. You’ll need 300 g flour, 250 g sugar, 3 eggs and 120 g raw almonds that are not skinned. Mix the flour with sugar and a pinch of salt, and add lightly beaten eggs. Knead quickly and add the almonds. Form the dough in two cylinders, each about 3cm in diameter. Bake at 170 C for about 20 minutes. While they are still hot, cut diagonal slices about 1cm thick. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until they are completely dry. Once cooled, they can be stored in a box or jar for weeks.

Most European countries have adopted their own version of biscotti. The British have rusks, the French have biscotte and croquets de carcassonne. Germans have zwieback, Greeks have biskota and paxemadia. Jewish people have mandelbrot and Russians have sukhariki.

source - The Nible

What about the dipping part of the story?

When it comes to dipping cantuccini in something, the Italians have very strict rules. The Italian rule says to dip biscotti in Vin Santo, not coffee. This way, hard biscotti become moist after a few seconds. Buon appetito!

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