“Hey, wanna come over and have a biscotti? How about a cantucci? Or what about a cantuccini?”
Well, you should be …but I will explain.
The cookie we all know and love as biscotti are the traditional dry cookies (authentically made with no fat, anise flavored liqueur and almonds) that we, as North Americans, dip in coffee (Italians dip it into Vin Santo – a sweet wine that was originally made by the monks). The word biscotti means “twice baked” but, in actual fact, the word biscotti, in Italy, refers to any cookie (like a biscotto, which is singular for biscotti). So, if you’re in Italy and you want a biscotti, as we know it, you may have to ask for a cantucci (or a cantuccini for a smaller version).
And, of course, as North Americans always will do, we changed them up added fat (our recipes almost always have oil or butter) and called them our own. If you ever have the chance to have a traditional cantucci, try it. There is something very comforting about that very simple cookie.
But then again, it might just be the vin santo…
2 2/3 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of 2 oranges (I used mandarins this time because they were in season),
1 c toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 c olive oil
2 tbsp fresh orange juice (or mandarin juice…whatever you’re zesting)
2 tbsp Grand Mariner
1/2 c dark chocolate , roughly chopped
pinch cayenne (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350; line 2 baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.
2. Place the zest in a small bowl and add about 2 tbsp flour and rub it into the zest (this ensures that it doesn’t stay in one clump).
3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne (if using). Toss in the flour-coated zest and the chopped pecans; make a well in the centre and set aside.
4. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs with the olive oil, orange juice and Grand Marnier (remember to use a strainer when you pour in the fresh orange/mandarin juice to catch any seeds).
5. Pour egg mixture into the centre of the flour mixture and stir to combine.
6. Stir with a wooden spoon or a spatula and add the chocolate; mix until it is all incorporated.
7. On a well floured surface, divide the dough into six pieces; form into long logs and place 3 on each baking sheet; flatten a bit and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden (rotate your sheets halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly).
8. Remove from the oven and cool for about 15 minutes or cool enough to handle; cut the logs, using a serrated knife, into 1/2 inch slices and place back on the baking sheets.
9. At the same temperature, bake for another 15 minutes, turning once to get browned on both sides.
10. Cool and serve with a really awesome espresso or, like the Italians, a glass of vin santo!!