Cantuccini Toscani, or Tuscan almond biscuits, are those well-known Italian cookies that are baked twice for extra crispiness. This easy cantuccini recipe yields about 36 cookies and is highly versatile, as you can play with the flavours as you wish.
Cantucci, with the diminutive cantuccini, are perhaps the most famous cookies in Italy and one of the most successful exports of Tuscany when it comes to sweet treats. The Italian name for cookies is "biscotti," meaning "baked twice," which is exactly how cantuccini are made.
I knew of cantuccini, of course, as you can see them in British supermarkets year-round and especially around Christmas, but it wasn't until I lived for a month in Florence that I fell in love with them. I think I gained a couple of pounds that month just because I used to buy a bag of cantuccini almost every day and share it with my husband. Back in the UK, I knew I had to replicate them.
These pretty Italian cookies are very easy to make, as you simply bake them into a log, which you then cut into slices with a serrated knife and bake again. This results in dry biscotti that are super crispy and ready to be served with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Pictured here are traditional almond cantuccini, but this is a highly versatile recipe, so you can use hazelnuts, pistachio, dried fruit or even chocolate chips to make them your own. The variations are endless and while I chose to use some lemon extract for flavor, you can substitute it for almond extract, limoncello, or even go adventurous and make Bailey's cantuccini.
What do you need to make cantuccini Toscani?
The basic recipe for cantuccini is pretty simple: all you need is flour, eggs, sugar, and almonds, plus a bit of baking powder. You can use regular almonds or blanched ones; I opted for the regular kind as that's how they do it in Italy most of the time.
I used plain flour for these cantuccini, but you can substitute with pastry flour if that's what you have around. All-purpose flour works very well, but you should not skip the sifting step.
My variation of cantuccini calls for half a teaspoon of Sicilian lemon extract, but you can omit it or substitute with the zest of a lemon. If you want your cantuccini to be alcohol-flavored, you can use some amaretto, limoncello, or Irish cream.
How long can you store cantuccini for?
If you can keep your hands off them, you can store these cantuccini in a sealed container for up to four weeks. They are prone to go even harder the next day after baking, but this is how it's supposed to be.
- 275 g plain flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 150 g raw almonds
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C (350 F). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs, lemon extract, honey, and mix until you get a slightly crumbly mixture.
- Add the almonds and mix again to incorporate them.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll it into a long log approximately 45 cm long and 5 cm wide. You can do it in two logs if you want the cantuccini to be smaller.
- Transfer the logs to the baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Use a serrated knife to cut the logs into 1 ½ cm slices.
- Place the slices back on the baking sheet and bake for 10 more minutes until golden brown.
- Let the cantuccini cool on a wire rack before serving.