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Cantuccini, correctly!

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Now everyone and their mother will be telling me that this recipe is biscotti but, being a stubborn, uncooperative Yankee, I beg to argue. If you were to visit central Italy, you would most often find cantuccinis with your cafe della casa, not biscottis. What is the difference, you say? Well, I'll tell ya. Even though all biscottis should truly be called cantuccinis, it is the use of an acid (or yeast) that designates it so. I use lemon juice in this recipe, which helps make them less dry.

Walnut cardamon cantuccini

This dough is cooked twice: once in log form and secondly in sliced form. The second baking is what transforms it into cantuccini. I enjoy this with simple hot cocoa, either flavored with a shot of brandy or simply some mint chocolate chips to melt into your cocoa. If you want to stay true to its heritage, enjoy them with Vin Santo or any fortified wine.

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine butter and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Combine flour, cardamom, baking powder, salt, lemon juice and grated zest in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in crushed walnuts and then add the egg mixture, stirring well.

Divide the dough in half and shape half into a log on a floured work surface. Repeat with remaining dough to make a second log; the dough will be slightly sticky. Place both logs on a greased cookie sheet and bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and reduce oven to 300 degrees F.

When the logs are cool enough to handle, cut each into 8 slices, each about 1/2-inch thick. Place these slices back onto the cookie sheet and continue cooking an additional 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and enjoy with your favorite hot cocoa on a cold night.

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