Biscotti, little confections also known as biscotto (bis, being the Latin word for ‘twice’, and coctum, Latin for ‘baked’) in the Roman times and cantucci di Prato, or Prato biscotti, from where they made another appearance in Tuscany. And hence, biscotti started off as a staple for travelers when the Roman Empire was at its peak and has since become paired with a cup of foaming cappuccino.
Interestingly, Italians call biscotti cantucci because biscotti refers to any crunchy cookie of any shape and cantucci is the actual hard, twice-baked cookie that North Americans call biscotti. Perhaps that’s where the saying “do as the Romans do” came in?
On my next foray into the kitchen, I decided on cantucci – screw the Romans; they’re no longer here but the Italians still are – because I haven’t made a batch of them in quite a while. Plus, I’ve been craving a fresh cup of coffee to go with my freshly-baked cantucci. And so I present to you:
[based on this recipe]
Makes 32 Pieces
– 1 3/4 cups of Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour
– 1/4 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour
– 3/4 cup Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
– 1 1/5 tsp of Baking Powder
– 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
– 1/4 tsp Salt
– 1 cup of Walnuts, coarsely chopped
– 2 TBSP of Unsweetened Almond-Coconut Milk
– 3 large Eggs. room temperature
– 2 TBSP of Butter, melted
– 1 tsp of Pure Vanilla Extract
– 1 tsp of Pure Almond Extract
Set the baking rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and walnuts) to one large mixing bowl and combine until thoroughly mixed. In a smaller bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together (almond-coconut milk, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, almond extract) until homogeneous. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until just incorporated. Refrain from over-mixing.
Lightly flour a working surface and place the dough on it before dividing in half. Lightly flour your hands and form two somewhat flat logs from the two halves. Place on the parchment paper roughly four to six inches apart.
Bake the logs for 25 to 30 minutes, or until logs are firm to the touch. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Keep the oven on.
Once cooled, slice each log into 16 (preferably equal) pieces. [Tips on how to slice equally here.]
Transfer slices onto the same parchment paper and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Flip each piece over and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the oven. Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Enjoy!
- I added a little more milk to the dough (at least a teaspoon but less than a tablespoon) because it got too dry, or so I thought. As a result, I think it ended up too sticky so I used a little extra flour when it came time to preparing the “logs”. Or it could have been that I mixed too well that it got sticky. Either way, try not to add extra liquid unless absolutely necessary and mix half-heartedly. If you did, though, it’ll still come out well, so no worries.
- During that last bake time, I left it in for only 10 minutes, because I noted some edges of the thicker pieces were getting too brown. On that note, possessing a proper bread knife (something I don’t have) would also be helpful.
- Next time, I might add dried cranberries (Craisins, anyone?) to the mix as well as extra spices. Perhaps a teaspoon each, at the very least. I like my spices. However, it smelled great and tasted pretty good, regardless. It was subtly sweet and the walnuts gave it an earthy flavor with a fragrant hint of almond from the surprise extract.
- Off topic: cantucci reminds me of well-toasted bread “cookies” – the only thing that makes them earn that title of “cookie” is because it’s vaguely sweet. Sweetened goods in the States tends to be too sweet.