Biscotti, more correctly known as biscotti di Prato (English: biscuits of Prato), also known as cantuccini (English: corners), are a twice-baked cakes originating in the Italian city of Prato. The cakes are large almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven.
The first documented recipe for the cake is a centuries-old manuscript, now preserved in the State of Prato, found by the eighteenth century scholar Baldanzi Amadio.
Although commonly used to indicate the biscuits of Prato, biscotti di Prato, in modern Italy they are also known widely by the names "nooks" and "cantuccini." These names actually suggest other similar regional products of Italy. The term cantuccini ("little nooks") is most commonly used today in Tuscany, but originally refers to variations or imitations which deviate from the traditional recipe in a few key points such as the use of yeasts, acids (to make them less dry) and flavourings.
The mixture for the cantuccini is composed exclusively of flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts; and almonds that are not roasted or skinned. The traditional recipe uses no form of yeast or fat (butter, oil, milk). The barely wet dough is then cooked twice: once in slab form, and after cutting in sliced form, with the second baking defining how hard the biscotti are.
Modern recipes include adding baking powder and spices to the flour. The nuts are then added to allow them to be coated, with the skins being left particularly when using almonds and hazelnuts. Separately, eggs are beaten together, and then any wet flavouring (e.g., almond extract or liquor), before being added to the dry ingredients. Following twice baking (once in long slab form, secondly in cut sliced form), the cantuccini may be dipped in a glaze, such as chocolate.
Being very dry, biscotti traditionally are served with a drink, into which they may be dunked. In Italy they are served typically with vin santo.
In modern usage they more frequently accompany coffee, including cappuccinos and lattes, or black tea.
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Cantucci al cioccolato - Chocolate Cantucci, croce-delizia.blogspot.com
Cantuccini Tuscan Almond Biscuits, www.organictuscany.org