A cookie originally made to last a long time and soak up wine…sounds good to me!
In the U.S. this traditional Italian hard cookie is referred to as biscotti; whereas in many regions in Italy it is called cantucci.
Biscotti comes from a small city in the Tuscan region of Italy called Prato. The cookie–cantucci de prato–was originally developed out of necessity rather than taste. People, specifically sailors, travelers, soldiers, and fishermen, needed a food that would last a long time without spoiling.
Being invented in Prato, where the almond groves flourish, the first cantucci were flavored with almonds. Fun fact about almonds and Italy–almonds originate from eastern areas (China, Japan, Russia), so how did they get to Italy?
Sicily, the southernmost point in Italy, often traded with the ancient Greeks who often traded with those traveling from the East. Almonds reached Italy first by entering Sicily and moving up through the country.
Although cantucci started as almond flavored, it was so loved throughout Italy that today, each region has its own staple flavor for the cookie. Flavors from anisette (Sicily) to chocolate (Rome) fill the country.
As a child, I didn’t enjoy biscotti because I thought it had a bland flavor and I preferred softer cookies.
In college, I decided to try to make them with anise because I love zuccherini. I fell in love immediately, with both the taste and the baking process. Although biscotti is time consuming to make, it is quite a simple process. It is so simple it feels like meditating.
They were so delicious I have been making them ever since. To me, there is nothing better than homemade biscotti dipped in fresh hot coffee!
This year, I decided to take another step and create my own biscotti recipe for an almond and cranberry flavor. Enjoy!
Deanna’s Almond and Cranberry Biscotti
- 5 cups unbleached flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup of softened butter (2 sticks)
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 ½-2 tablespoons almond extract (depending on how much almond flavoring you prefer)
- 1 cup of sliced almonds
- 1 cup cranberries or more if preferred
Sift dry ingredients together, including the anise seed. Set aside. In a large bowl with a mixer beat butter, sugar, until fluffy, add eggs one at a time along with the anise oil or extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low until blended.
Place dough on lightly floured counter. Knead very gently about 3 times and pat into a circle. Separate the dough into 4 parts. Each part becomes a log measuring around 2 1/2 inches by 9 or 10 inches long. Place logs on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 25 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from the oven and let them cool down on a rack. Carefully cut them about a 1/2 inch thick (use a smooth knife and try not to saw), turn each piece on their side and bake on each side for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Makes around 75 biscotti depending on size.
I hope you enjoy my biscotti recipe! Let me know how you like them and comment your favorite biscotti flavor. Buon appetito, D