By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Today, I’d love to share with you a typical Tuscan recipe—cantuccini, or biscotti di Prato. These dry almond cookies have an ancient origin all the way back to a book written in 1691!
They where made by nuns in Prato, a city close to Florence, and now they are famous all over the world.
These "cookies" are usually served at the end of the meal with Vin Santo, a Tuscan dessert wine that is historically used to celebrate Catholic Mass.
The word biscotti literally means "twice (bis) cooked (cotto)"—twice-baked cookies! They are extremely simple to make. Just mix all the ingredients together, shape the dough into long logs, and bake them. Then, when the logs are still warm, cut them into slices and cook them again.
According to tradition, these cookies should be quite hard and dry as they are usually dipped in sweet wine.
Cantuccini di Prato
1 cup unpeeled almonds
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, plus 1 for brushing
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 orange
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven at 350°.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, honey, and eggs. Whisk until it turns lighter in color.
Add flour, baking powder, orange zest, and salt. Mix everything together until well combined.
When you achieve a crumbly texture, add the almonds.
Shape the dough into three long logs (about 1 1/2 inches high) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Remember to leave enough space between the logs to allow for rising.
Evenly brush the logs’ surface with egg.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Take the logs out of the oven and cool slightly.
Cut the logs diagonally into 1/2-inch slices using a serrated knife.
Put the slices back onto the baking tray, cut side down. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).