Cantucci | Italian Biscotti Recipe
The term "biscotti" literally means "twice-cooked," and Tuscan cantucci definitely fall in that category. Traditionally they are made simply with almonds, but you can also add other nuts and figs, as we have done in this recipe.
In Italy, cantucci are made with an ammonia-based leavening agent which gives them a remarkably long shelf life. It's available online, but it can also be substituted with baking powder, although the cookies won't keep quite as long.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Makes 50 biscotti.
For this recipe, you will need:
10 dried figs (optional, add some more nuts if you skip the figs)
2 large eggs
1 cup (250g) sugar
3/4 cup (150g) lard
1 tsp rose water (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 packet (9g) biscotti ammonia or 2 tsp baking powder
4 1/8 cup (500g) all-purpose flour
8.5 oz. (250g) mixed nuts, chopped (almonds, pecans, pistachio, anything you want!)
A hand or stand mixer
Begin by placing the figs in a bowl and submerge them in warm water. Allow them to soak for 20-30 minutes, then roughly chop them. Preheat an oven to 355 degrees F (180 C).
In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk them with a hand mixer until the mixture is white and creamy. Add the lard and continue to whisk until it is well-incorporated.
Using a spatula, stir in the rose water and cinnamon, if you choose to use them.
Separately, combine the ammonia (or baking powder) and the flour. Mix well. Gradually add this into the eggs/sugar, folding it in with a spatula. Eventually the mixture will thicken enough that you can start mixing and kneading by hand.
When all of the flour is mixed in, transfer the dough to a clean work surface. Press it into a flat pancake shape and spread a handful of chopped nuts and figs on top. Fold and knead them into the dough, then repeat until all of the nuts and figs are evenly mixed in.
Cut the dough into three, equal portions. Roll each out into a sausage shape, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Take care to ensure that the width is even, and the "sausage" doesn't have large gaps or cracks. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or multiple if you need more space) and gently press them to flatten them slightly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes.
Slice each dough portion into straight, thumb-width segments. Arrange the cut biscotti on their sides on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It's ok to crowd them in, they won't expand at all.
Bake a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving. Store in a plastic bag or a tupperware container for up to 2 months. Buon appetito!