Cantucci are the most famous Italian biscuits in the world, both for their characteristic appearance and for their unique flavor, given by Vin Santo, almonds and anise in the dough: a symphony of sweetness that seduces the palate with its delicacy.
If we then combine a glass of Vin Santo with these adorable cookies, we have one of the most successful culinary wine and food pairings ever made. Cantucci cookies seem to have been born to exalt sweet wines and fortified wines like Port wine and Marsala, that crunchiness invites you to dip them into wine and eat them one after the other.
There is more than one recipe of Tuscan cantucci, some also add pine nuts or walnuts, while other pastry chefs prepare them only with Vin Santo and anise, leaving out the almonds. We recommend always add almonds if you have to combine them with Vino Santo or Port, to create a harmony of aromas and flavors with these unique and rare wines. What we propose today is the traditional recipe of the cantucci of Prato, where these splendid desserts were born.
Ingredients and doses for making Tuscan cantucci cookies
- 800 grams of 00 flour
- 6 eggs
- 1 glass of olive oil or 120 grams of butter
- a handful of anise seeds
- 60 grams of Vin Santo
- 400 grams of sugar
- 100 grams of honey
- 350 grams of toasted almonds
- 5 grams of salt
- 12 grams of brewer’s yeast
How to make the original Tuscan cantucci cookies
Put the anise seeds in a mortar and grind them, then put them in infusion in the Vin Santo and leave to macerate for a couple of hours.
Whip the eggs and sugar for 3-4 minutes, add the oil (or butter melted in a bain-marie), and finally pour the slightly warmed honey.
Continue to whisk, add the Vin Santo and the almonds to the dough, season with a pinch of salt. Add the flour slowly until you get a homogeneous and elastic dough, then add the dissolved brewer’s yeast in a little bit of warm water. Knead for 5 minutes.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for 4 hours covered with a kitchen towel.
How to bake Cantucci cookies
Divide the dough into many dough pieces to which you will give the shape of a loaf of bread quite long. Lay them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake at 170-180 degrees. If you want you can brush with egg white and sugar.
Cook for 30 minutes, then immediately remove the dough pieces and cut diagonally until they are hot. Put them back on the baking sheet and finish to bake for 10 minutes more or until golden brown, slightly browned. Pay attention to the temperature, if the oven is too hot, lower the temperature a little to avoid burning them. Remove from the oven and let the biscuits cool. And now you can eat your Cantucci, but pay attention they are hard as a rock, for this reason, they are usually soaked in wine.
What wine to pair with Tuscan cantucci?
Serve the cantucci with a glass of Vin Santo, Port, Recioto di Soave or a sweet Moscato d’Asti.
If you prefer to combine a cocktail, choose the sweetness of the Brandy Egg Nog.
Variations of the cantucci of Prato
The cantucci are delicious as they are, but you can also work on some variations, one of them is the one that includes cantucci covered with melted chocolate.
The procedure is very simple: take 400 grams of extra dark chocolate, 60 ml of cream, and 30 grams of butter. Melt in a saucepan in a bain-marie over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the chocolate is melted, let it cool slightly, then dip the Cantucci cookies one by one to apply the chocolate ganache and leave to cool.