We decided early on that our biscotti would be ‘piccolini’ – small – like a great Roman espresso.” – Mona Talbot, “Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome”
Subtly sweet and ultra-crisp, this Italian treat is a seductive snack
Biscotti, or cantucci as it’s called in Italy, was popularized in the Tuscan region during the Renaissance.
Although modern biscotti is associated with Tuscany, the popular cookie traces its origins to the time of the Roman Empire, when it was more of a convenience food for travelers, durable enough for long journeys, rather than a treat for leisurely diners. Biscotti was dietary staple for travelers and soldiers of the Roman army.
In Italy, biscotti is a more generic name for the style of cookies produced there.
Cantucci is a type of biscotti. This twice-baked Italian cookie is subtly sweet and ultra-crispy. Cantucci makes a seductive snack for any time of the day.
Tuscan tradition favors them as dipping cookies to dunk in wine, but the possibilities are endless. With their myriad flavor combinations, they are a delight at any hour and can be a part of your breakfast routine, a lunchtime sweet, a cappuccino accompaniment, a gelato partner and a late-night snack with hot chocolate or port. The quintessential biscotti is said to be the Cantucci di Prato, flavored with almonds from the groves that were plentiful in the region. A glass of vin santo is the perfect partner.
White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
2 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2⁄3 cup macadamia nuts
2⁄3 cup white chocolate chips
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and liqueur. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, mixing until blended. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips. Divide dough in half.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pat out the two logs about a ½-inch high, 1½ inches wide and 14 inches long, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake in the middle of a preheated oven at 350 F for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Transfer from the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Place on a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut at a diagonal of 45 degrees, about ½-inch thick. Place upright on the baking sheet and return to the oven for about 8 minutes longer to dry slightly.
Let cool on the rack. Store in an airtight container.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.