Cantucci (o cantuccini) and vinsanto are one of the many reasons why you cannot help loving Tuscany. You can follow our easy Italian recipe to make cantucci yourself and enjoy a delicious taste of Italy.
It was a very popular tradition in the 16th century and – lucky us – it is still now the most typical way of ending a meal in Tuscany. Cantucci are delicious almond biscuits that you can dunk into the vinsanto, a straw wine made from Trebbiano or Malvasia grapes that have been dried on straw mats to concentrate their juice. This process gives the vinsanto an alcohol content of 15%-17%.
Do you know what vinsanto means? The translation in English is “Holy Wine” – so it must be very good!
There are many theories trying to explain why this wine is called Santo (Holy). The most likely one, is that a Tuscan friar, during the 14th century, used the wine from the Mass to cure people affected by the plague. The wine gave them a temporary relief and the very few miraculous healings were associated with the holy power of the wine.
Are you ready? Wear an apron, play a relaxing music and, very important when cooking, put a smile upon your face. Cantucci will be much tastier!
Ingredients for approximately 50 biscuits
- 500 g of pastry flour [4¼ cups or 18 oz]
- 200 g of peeled raw almonds [7.5 oz]
- 300 g of sugar [1½ cup or 10.6 oz]
- 75 g of butter [1/3 cup or 2.65 oz]
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon of vanillin (vanilla powder) or 1 vanilla bean
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C [356 °F]
- Place the almonds on a baking tray and toast them till they are fragrant and lightly golden [approx. 5 minutes]. Then set the almonds aside to cool down and chop them up.
- In a large bowl combine the flour, the sugar, the butter, the eggs, the orange zest, the vanilla, the baking powder and the pinch of salt. Add the almond and mix everything with your hands till you get a soft and homogeneous dough.
- Take a baking tray and grease it with butter and flour. Then roll on it the dough into 4-5 logs about 30 cm [12 inch] long and 5 cm [2 inch] wide.
- Bake the logs for 15 minutes at 180 °C [356 °F]. Then transfer the logs onto a surface to cool slightly for 5- 10 minutes. When still warm, cut the cantucci diagonally into 1 cm [6 inch] thick pieces.
- Lay the cantucci on the baking tray and bake at 150 °C [300 °F] till they become golden and crunchy – approximately 20-25 minutes. Then let the cantucci cool down at room temperature and enjoy them.
The perfect match for cantucci is vinsanto, but they are excellent also with coffee or tea. Cantucci are dry biscuits, so you can actually store them for several weeks. We’ve noticed though that they are too delicious to last more than a couple of days!
Did you enjoy this recipe? More authentic Italian recipes will come in the next weeks on the LocalWonders Travel blog.
Once you’ve tried your own cantucci, you might want to taste the cantucci of a local Italian pastry shop. Travel to Italy! Join our Wonders of Northern Italy tour for tasting the Tuscan cuisine or taking part in a great cooking class with the locals. We’ve got great Small Group Trips to Italy for you!