Ok, before I even start, let’s get one thing clear – cantucci is the same as biscotti. Biscotti is Italian for cookies, and cantucci refers to cookies that originated from the region of Tuscany. There! I got the same education when we were in Tuscany back in 2014. We had late lunch in Piazza del Campo in Siena and my husband wanted a light dessert. The waiter said they have cantucci that’s fresh out of the oven. When he brought it over, I said ‘oh, biscotti!’ and he said, ‘No, we call it cantucci.’ – Ooopppsss!
The one that we had in Siena is the classic cantucci – with almonds. For this recipe, I wanted to add dried fruit to provide the additional sweetness, and then use less sugar in the dough. So, I opted for my favorite dried fruit – hence ‘Tuscan Fig Cookies’ or ‘Cantucci ai Fichi’ in Italian. 🙂
Figs are quite ubiquitous in Italian cuisine, but truth be told, I don’t think there is any dried fruit that will not go well with almonds (or is there?). Vin Santo (Tuscany’s sweet wine) is used for making these cookies as well. I tried using Amaretto, since it’s almond-based anyway; but there is quite a difference in the taste. I switched back to using Vin Santo from that point on.
Normally, when you eat them, these cookies are ‘dunked’ in Vin Santo, to soften them a bit. Personally, I only pair cantucci with Vin Santo after a meal. For snack or breakfast, I dunk them in my espresso instead. (Yep, even for fika!) 😀
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- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, one separated
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large orange, grated zest
- 1 tbsp butter, unsalted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup Vin Santo
- dash of salt
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- 1/3 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Put baking sheet in a baking pan.
- Combine sugar, one whole egg and one egg yolk in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- Add honey, orange zest, butter, baking powder, vin santo, salt and 1 ½ cups of flour. Mix to combine. I find it’s better to use your hands when mixing this dough.
- Add almonds and dried figs. Mix to combine.
- If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. From my experience, I find that this always varies, but I never had a need to add more than the remaining ½ cup of flour. The dough should be hard enough to make it easy to roll it into a log shape.
- Divide the dough in half and form a log for each dough. Place both logs on baking pan.
- Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it has slightly browned.
- Take the logs out of the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not turn off the oven.
- Cut the logs into cookies (slightly diagonal, ½ inch thick) and place back in the baking pan (each cookie should be place horizontally, one sliced side touching the pan). NOTE: I find that it’s better to use a normal knife than a serrated knife when cutting the cookies. A serrated knife tends to break the sides of the cookie.
- Put pan back in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.