Thursday, 16 October 2014

Almond & Pistachio Cantucci

These are such great biscuits… and so incredibly easy to make.  These are biscuits in the true sense of the word, in that they are twice baked! The word ‘biscuit’ is derived from the French and prior to that the Latin for ‘twice-baked’ (bis = twice; coquere = cooked)… And these cantucci are baked twice, firstly in a loaf and then sliced into individual biscuits and dried out in the oven.

Cantucci are a type of Italian biscuit, often dipped into sweet wine at the end of a meal. Whilst I am not claiming that an Italian would declare my version to be absolutely authentic, I can assure you that the finished biscuits are delicious.
 
As regular readers of my posts will know, I am on a bit of a pistachio crusade at the moment, eagerly trying all manner of different recipes that use this fabulously tasty, almost sweet nut. Here I have used whole pistachios along with whole blanched almonds, but to be honest you could use only pistachios or whatever other nuts you would prefer.
 
This is an incredibly simple recipe and the biscuits keep for ages. When baked for the second time, they are quite hard, but this is the way that they should be – perfect for dipping into some vin santo at the end of a meal! One piece of advice… use a large serrated knife to slice the biscuits after their first baking – it gives the cleanest cut.
 

Ingredients:

300g plain flour
200g caster sugar
50g whole blanched almonds
50g whole pistachios (unsalted)
1 lemon, juice and finely grated zest
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
 

Method:

1. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
2. Place the flour, caster sugar, nuts and lemon zest in a large bowl and mix together so that everything is well incorporated. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the lemon juice and eggs.
3. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together. The dough will be quite soft, but don’t worry about this. Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly. Form into a log shape about 8cms x 20cms and place on the prepared baking tray. Allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.  Bake the biscuit log for 15-20 minutes until a light golden brown colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160C/Fan Oven 140C/Gas Mark 2.
5. Remove the log from the baking tray and slice width-ways into thin slices about 1cm thick. Place on the baking tray and bake for a further 15 minutes, making sure that they do not colour too much.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
 
Makes 20-24 biscuits.