Biscotti is a twice-baked cookie with roots that go all the way back to ancient Rome. Initially, these incredibly crunchy cookies were made to sustain the Roman soldiers while they were away for extended periods of time. Since the cookies were already hard and crunchy, there was no risk of them spoiling. Like much of Italy, during the Italian renaissance biscotti (or cantucci as they are more commonly known in Italy) had a significant glow up. Instead of a dry, unpleasant biscuit that was nothing more than sustenance, the biscotti became a treat that Italians enjoyed with a cup of caffé or wine. Here is my family’s way of making them; this specific biscotti recipe is called Italian Cantuccini and originated in Tuscany, where the first recipe for this biscuit was found!
¾ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 drops of orange blossom
3 drops of rose water
A pinch of salt
1 ⅓ cups flour, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons of baking powder
¾ cup crushed almonds
1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. In a large bowl, beat sugar and eggs together with a fork. Add orange and lemon zest, vanilla, orange blossom, rose water, and a pinch of salt. Beat with a fork until everything is well combined.
Add the flour and baking powder, then lightly crunch the almonds by hand, then add them to the bowl and mix until everything is well combined.
Lightly flour a work surface, then dump the dough out on the prepared surface. Cut the dough into two even pieces, then form each piece of dough into a 3-inch wide log. Brush each log with egg white, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, then remove the tray from the oven and carefully cut each log into 1 -inch biscuits, while still warm. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 4-5 minutes per side.