I just don’t have anywhere near enough time to bake these days. Thankfully, I’ve got a few days off over the Xmas and New Year break so I’m making these lovely cantuccini biscuits to wrap in pretty cellophane bags and give away as presents. You can buy these from Italian deli shops like Carluccio’s but these are soooooo much nicer – delicious dipped in a strong cup of coffee or some Vin Santo dessert wine. They are pretty easy to make and will fill your kitchen with the fabulous scent of vanilla.
You will need…(makes about 30 biscuits)
- 250g plain flour or Italian 00 (I used Spelt flour this time and they were lovely)
- 250 golden caster sugar (Billington’s preferably)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 eggs, beaten + one egg yolk
- 100g whole almonds and pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds
- A pinch of sea salt
- Egg wash (egg yolk and a splash of water) to glaze
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or non-stick liner
- Put the flour, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and mix. Stir in the beaten egg and mix with a spoon or your hands until you have a smoothish dough.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and knead in the nuts and seeds.
- Divide the mixture into 2 and roll out into a compact log shape about 4cm wide.
- Lightly glaze with a little egg wash. Place each log crosswise on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 35 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 150°.
- Allow the logs to cool slightly and then cut into 2.5cm slices at a slight angle. Lay them cut side up on the baking sheets.
- Return them to the one for another 30 minutes or until they are no longer soft. Allow them to cool.
- Keep them in an airtight container until you want to eat them or place a half dozen or so in a pretty gift bag to give as a present.
You can substitute some of the flour with cocoa and add chopped hazelnuts and orange zest for a delicious alternative.