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!) 😀
- 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.