This almond biscotti recipe is from the Maremma Guide Italian Biscotti Recipes Collection. It is our Nonnis (Grandmothers') old family "biscotti Cantuccini" recipe - one of the very best Italian cookie recipes around - and makes wonderfully moreish homemade biscotti.
Indeed, they the best Tuscan biscotti I have tasted and that is saying something as I have a sweet tooth and eat a lot of biscuits - its an English cup of tea tradition!
There is no comparison between these "nonni biscotti" and those commercially-made: the latter are far too sweet for my taste and contain far too few almonds! Once you have tasted these you won't want any others!
This recipe is one of Nonna Alvara's EASY biscotti recipes.
These almond biscuits are traditionally known as "Biscotti di Prato" in recognition of the fact that they originate from the city of Prato in Tuscany.
They have also come to be known as "Cantuccini" and "Cantucci" - the latter literally meaning "corners".
The first documented recipe is a manuscript dating back to the eighteenth century.
There have been many variations since, but the original recipe comprised of only flour, sugar, eggs, almonds and "pinoli" (pine nuts).
Unlike in the more modern Cantuccini, the almonds were neither toasted or skinned, and no raising agent or fat - butter, oil or milk - or aromas were used.
The distinguishing features of these Tuscan biscotti are that they are baked twice and the "pasta" biscuit roll is sliced diagonally whilst still warm.
1 beaten egg yolk
250 grams of castor sugar
400 grams of plain flour
18 grams of baking powder - in Italy baking powder is sold in (18 gram) sachets called "lievito"
150 grams of lightly toasted whole almonds with skins
A few drops of essence of orange
A pinch of salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. (Alvara uses a fan-oven at 180 degrees C.)
2. Beat together the two (whole) eggs with the castor sugar.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, essence of orange, and salt. Mix well.
4. Stir the whole almonds into the resultant dough.
5. On a lightly-floured surface, form the dough into a long roll with the width of three fingers and the height of one.
(Alvara uses her hands rather than a rolling-pin to do this.)
6. Put the dough roll onto a buttered and lightly-floured baking tray.
7. Glaze the top of the dough roll with the beaten egg yolk.
8. Cook for about 15 minutes.
You are looking for the biscuit roll to have a light "biscuit"/almond colour. If after 15 minutes it is still white in colour, return it to the oven to cook for a little longer.
9. Remove from the oven and cut the roll diagonally at about one finger width intervals.
10. Return the biscuit roll to the oven for another 6 minutes (at the same temperature).
11. Remove from the oven and transfer the biscuits to a cooling rack.
The biscotti are traditionally served with a glass of sweet Vin Santo wine in which to dip the biscuits (and drink afterwards if you like!): a perfect Italian dessert that takes so little preparation - just open the biscuit jar and pour the wine! but one which will bowl your guests over and leave them dreaming of Italy...
To read more about sweet Italian wines perfect for Italian biscotti click on this Italian dessert wine link.
There are more delicious and easy biscotti recipes like this almond biscotti recipe in the Maremma Guide Italian biscotti recipes collection. Try the chocolate biscotti recipes, the pistachio biscotti recipe, the hazlenut biscotti... and the best Italian Christmas cookies.
Try some more Italian recipes from Maremma...