Cantucci: simple but super good

The story behind these simple but super good biscotti has long been debated lively and peacefully (not always!), with Tuscans in general and Pratese in particular laying claim to their provenance.

As an impartial member of the jury, I give the credit for the creation of cantuccini to the Biscottificio Mattei in Prato, also famous for their distinctive blue packaging, even if my trusty Enrico (with grandparents from Vaiano) suggests Biscottificio Santi in Migliana as the creator... let’s leave the matter there.

Here’s the recipe we use at home, handed down over three generations. It doesn’t feel the weight of its years and makes sure that your cantuccini are crunchy and flavourful.

Makes a generous trayful of cantuccini:

Take 300 grams of unrefined flour (“tipo 1” works well) and form a volcano with 250 grams of sugar. Break 3 really fresh eggs into the centre and start to mix everything together with 8 grams of baking powder and 200 grams of almonds, a pinch of salt and the zest of half an orange. When the dough is really smooth, shape into little serpents approximately 1 cm wide and place on a buttered tray sprinkled with sugar, brush with vin santo and sugar.

Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut, still hot, sideways. Set aside to cool and store them in a closed glass jar.

A few words about dipping cantucci into vin santo. The combination might be scrumptious, but it lacks respect for those who have spent at least five years of their life making a fine vin santo, the moment of sipping delayed by an almond cantuccio. Think it over...