Traditional biscotti, also known also at “Cantucci or Cantucci di Prato”, are Italian almond biscuits, or cookies. The English translation means “twice-baked”. The name is not meant to be clever: you actually bake this well-known Italian favorite twice. A double bake allows you to get the lovely golden hue and crispy texture that goes so well with a cup of coffee, or even better a nice Vin Santo wine following a meal.
Most people associate these Italian biscuits with the Tuscany region of Italy. They can actually be traced all the way back to Roman times. The Roman biscotti were more about convenience and were considered an ideal travel food, as opposed to a nibble after a leisurely dinner. Biscotti were baked twice to dry them out as much as possible making them durable for travel. It was not until the fall of the Roman Empire when a Tuscan chef reintroduced biscotti, pairing it with a sweet wine used for soaking. Traditional biscotti are flavored with almond, the almonds came from the groves of Prato, thus taking the name Cantucci di Prato that I mentioned above.
Cranberry-Orange Pistachio Biscotti
- 2 tablespoons vodka
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Step 2 Place the dried cranberries in a small bowl. Add the vodka and toss well to coat. Set aside to soften slightly.
- Step 3 In the bowl of a kitchen mixer such as a KitchenAid fitted with a metal paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to blend.
- Step 4 With the mixer on low, add the eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract and the orange zest. Continue to beat on low till the dough comes together.
- Step 5 Using a rubber tip spatula, fold in the cranberries and vodka as well as the pistachios. Mix well.
- Step 6 Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Flour your hands and gently shape the dough pieces into long logs that are about 12 inches long by 2 inches wide.
- Step 7 Place 2 of the logs onto one prepared baking sheet spaced few inches apart to allow for expansion. Place the 3rd log onto the second prepared baking sheet.
- Step 8 Place in the oven and bake, rotating once, for about 25-30 minutes until the logs are firm to the touch and just slightly beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Step 9 When the logs are cool enough to handle, place on a cutting board and using a serrated knife, slice the logs diagonally into ½-inch slices.
- Step 10 Place the sliced biscotti back on the baking sheet, cut side down, put back in the oven and continue to bake for an additional 8-10 minutes to toast slightly. Flip the biscotti over and bake on the other side for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Step 11 Remove from the oven and allow the biscotti to cool before serving. Stored in an airtight container, the biscotti should keep for one week.