Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lemon Almond Cantuccini (Biscotti)

In North America, we call them biscotti, in Italy and the rest of Europe they're called cantuccini (or cantucci). There was recently a recipe for them in one of the local papers which inspired me to try my hand at them.

This version uses no butter, which means the cookies become very hard and are best eaten dunked is some sweet wine, coffee or tea. They also keep well (if they last so long!).

Lemon Almond Cantuccini

Adapted from Cees Holtkamp

125 grams flour
125 grams sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
large pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon peel
2 medium eggs
100 grams almonds, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F/170C and prepare put parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon peel.
  3. Lightly beat the 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, and add it to the dry ingredients. Reserve the remaining egg white as an egg wash.
  4. Use your hands to lightly knead the eggs into the flour until it forms a dough.
  5. Add and mix in (still with your hands) the chopped almonds. I used blanched almonds, but using unblanched almonds would look pretty.
  6. Break the dough into two lumps and roll each lump out to a length of 10-12 inches on a lightly floured surface. A fatter roll will yield bigger cookies. For small cookies, you could break it into 4 skinny rolls.
  7. With a brush, apply a wash of egg white to yield shiny cookies.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown. The dough will spread out quite a bit.
  9. Turn the oven down to 300F/150C.
  10. Remove from the oven and put the baked plaques on a cutting board. While they are still warm and a bit soft on the inside, diagonally cut the plaques into pieces about 1 inch/2 cm wide. Place these pieces on their side on the parchment paper and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
  11. Let the cookies cool and then store in a jar or tin, theoretically for a month or so.
  12. Serve as dessert with a sweet wine like vin santo or white port for dunking, or with coffee or tea.

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