cantucciniThere's no shortage of biscotti recipes out there. My Mom makes an amazing one but my preference for this timely cookie has veered to the traditional. I made mine this year from a recipe in the 2001 Jan/Feb issue of La Cucina Italiana. This recipe is so simple, it's like a biscuit. Just a few ingredients, but its success depends on the process in which it's made. Took a few practice runs to get into a groove but finally made some good runs.

They're hard cookies begging for a dip in some hot drink but at the same time tender. I believe this tenderness is derived from gently working the dough once mixed; again, like a biscuit. Our good friend Amy makes the best I've ever had. I only hope mine are a fraction as good.

Slightly modified* recipe reprinted here for my convenience:
Cantuccini, makes about 30.
Self-rise flour, 200 g (1.5 Cups)
Sugar, 1 cup
Almonds, slivered and toasted, 3/4 cup
Vanilla extract, 1 t
Eggs, large, 2

Mix the wet with dry, divide and spread the sticky play-doh-like mass into 2 globs. Further shape the globs into ca. 12-15" logs on a parchment-lined sheet and bake in a 375F oven for 25 minutes. Cool briefly and cut diagonally and stand the cut cookies on another sheet and bake at 375F for an additional 15 minutes. Click the image for a larger image hosted at Flickr.

*The original recipe called for unbleached white flour and baking powder. Whenever I see this combination, I substitute self-rise flour. Usually the flour in such mixtures has a lower protein content (appropriate for most baked sweets) and it already has the chemical leavener in it (and a trace of salt). It's more convenient too.