Cantucci biscuits, also known as Biscotti di Prato, are typical Tuscan biscuits that you will find in every pasticceria, grocery store and trattoria, as something sweet to end your meal with.
They were invented in Prato (in 1858 by Antonio Mattei) near Florence, and initially made with almonds. Since then their fame has spread almost in no time and different variations have been created. I have a soft spot for chocolate cantucci and when baking them at home I like to embellish them a little by giving them a more festive feel. I simply add candied orange peel, grated orange zest and a warm note of Marsala.
They are meant to be eaten dunked in VinSanto, but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t enjoy them softened in your morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Makes 24-26 biscuits:
Preheat the oven to 190 C (static oven).
In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter. Rub the ingredients in your fingers until obtaining the consistency of sand.
Now add the lightly beaten eggs, Marsala, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Kneed the dough until well combined.
Now add the cubed orange peel and the chopped chocolate to the bowl and gently mix them with the dough (but don’t overwork it).
Cut the dough in half.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the two pieces of dough into two rolls (roughly 5 cm in diameter) and press them gently to flatten them ever so slightly.
Move the rolls onto a lined with baking parchment baking tray, leaving a good gap between them, and brush all over with the lightly beaten egg yolk.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
Take the tray out the oven and leave the rolls to cool a little, but not too much as they may start to crumble.
Lower the temperature of the oven to 160 C.
Gently move the prebaked rolls back onto a working surface and with a sharp knife cut them at a slight angle into thick slices (about 2 cm).
Arrange the cantucci back on the baking tray, exactly as you cut them (don’t lay them flat) spacing them a little.
Bake again for further 15 minutes or until they turn beautifully golden.
Leave to cool down completely.