It’s pretty hard to ignore that Christmas is around the corner.

Whether you are cheering or groaning, you just might need to eat a cookie anyways.

This cantuccini recipe is a perfect solution for gift giving.

Since these are baked twice (bis-cotto = twice cooked) they are dry biscuits – so if they sit around for a week before you give them away they are still perfect. Just keep them in a sealed container. I’ve made them the last three years and they give me a smug feeling (which is shockingly fleeting)  of domestic goddessness when this iconic Italian treat, is indeed, of my repertoire.

In Tuscany, these cookies are eaten after a meal soaked in a fortified wine called vin santo. But across the pond people eat biscotti dipped in coffee and yes – they are rad like that too (even if in the back of my head I’m thinking – I should be drinking carrot juice).

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks: Twelve – A Tuscan Cook Book by Tessa Kiros. Tessa’s books are all awesome. But if you love simple Italian food then I think Twelve is a book worth the investment. You’ll also find in its pages my favourite Christmas recipe: roast pheasant with pancetta.

Check out my other fave Italian recipe books. For now let’s get on with baking biscotti at home. Easy. Fun.


Cantuccini – Almond Biscotti


60 grams (2.25 oz) softened butter

250 g (9 oz) caster/superfine white sugar

Grated zest of either 1 orange or lemon

2 eggs

400 grams (14 oz) flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

150 grams (1 cup) whole almond with the skin

3 tablespoons vin santo (fortified wine).

(recipe makes about 45 cookies)


Turn oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas 4

Mix the butter and sugar till smooth with a big spoon. Add zest and the eggs and beat well. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the almonds and the booze. The recipe calls for vin santo but unless you live in Italy you likely won’t have this on hand. I use whatever liquor I have (rum is good) but you could just substitute water or juice too.

First, line your cookie sheet with parchment. Then dust your work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Divide your dough in 3 masses and form 3 salami style rolls of cookie dough (about 1.25 inches high/2 inches wide/and shorter than the length of your tray).

Put your dough logs on your cookie sheet and leave room between them for spreading. Bake for 20 minutes till they start to turn golden. They will be a little soft.

Get them out of the oven and lift them gently onto your work surface while they are still hot.

Cut them in slices, slightly at an angle. They should be about .5 – .75 inches wide. You should gently saw the surface of the cookie with a very sharp knife to break through the surface, but then chop down straight to shear the almonds cleanly for tidy little cookies.

Rearrange the cookies on the baking sheet cut side up. They will be fragile before their second round in the oven so don’t rush that step.

This is where you should really pay attention. I’ve overcooked these poor babies at this stage and made teeth breakers. My suggestion is to re-bake them for 5-7 more minutes. I think softer is better than harder as they do dry out as the days pass. Store in an airtight container and they can go a couple weeks – but they won’t. They never do.

They are a nice Christmas gift giving tradition. I wrap mine in brown paper tied with a ribbon. You could give them on their own or with a bag of good coffee or a bottle of port or wine or Tuscan vin santo if you’re feeling flush.

Hope you love them as much as me.

 {image credit 1, image credit 2}

Please comment. Do these remind you of Italy? Have you made biscotti at home before?

xx Bianca

28 Responses

  1. Wow, thanks for the recipe! Seriously. What a good idea. You even told me how to wrap them and I’m going to do it like that, too.
    Merry Christmas. I love your writing and your blog, Bianca. It’s great.

    1. Hi Fira,

      Something about cookies wrapped in brown paper is old world nonna loveliness that I can’t get enough of.

      xx Bianca

  2. your recipe is such a clear description of what to do and how to do it. biscotti are simple- so to speak, but very very difficult to make “just right”
    your instructions are clear and on the funny side.
    thak you very much.

    1. Hey Joersby,

      Glad you liked it. I make them at Christmas but frankly, not sure why I wait till then. They are so good anytime!

      xx Bianca

  3. Since coming back from Italy last month, I tried several Cantuccini recipes I found online. And I have to say, your version is by far the best. In fact, the result is sublime. It completely fits the memory of the taste I had from the biscottis I had in Tuscany; and perhaps even surpasses it! And your instructions are just clear and spot-on. I’m really, really thankful!

  4. Hi Bianca,

    My cantuccinies were crumbly when I cut them after first bake. Is it supposed to be like crumbly?

  5. Baking these now as a present for my father in law – wanted to go for a Christmas version – with smack you in the face flavour – replaced vin santo with orange blossom water, a drop of orange essence, a drop of almond essence and replaced 1/3 of the almonds with pistachios…the house smells heavenly! Oh – and I toasted the nuts and let them cool before adding. The dough was so silky and a pleasure to work with – thanks for posting!

  6. Bianca, Thanks for this excellent recipe!
    I’ve been testing biscotti recipes and this one is just right; medium crunch, balanced sweetness and not too much fuss. It’s a keeper (and such careful instructions too :-). I made a batch for an Italian party and everyone thought I bought them at a specialty market (the whole almonds look professional, though a bit harder to slice as you say). No more searching; this is a classic. Grazie Mille Bella.

  7. I have made Cantuccinni before but not using butter, I think it makes them richer and these seem to be much sweeter than before. We are really enjoying these and I will use the recipe again but will add some vanilla or almond essence as I normally do. I have also used lemon zest as change.

  8. I was in Florence in May of last year…fell in love with Cantuccini and Vin Santo…so much so I’ve already had 2 cases of vin santo sent to me. Today was my first attempt at making the cantuccini. This recipe was spot on! So easy and when I dipped the first one in my Vin Santo it brought back all the wonderful memories of my time in Florence! Thank you!

    1. Krista,
      I love how food transports you to all the good memories. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Hello! I am looking forward to try this recipe. can i use a non alcoholic substitute for vin santo? Thanks

    1. Hi Rafia,
      Yes, you can substitute juice or water for the Vin Santo if you prefer not to use it. Happy baking!
      Kiiri @ Italian Fix

  10. Made these for the third time today, your recipe is spot on & everyone loves them, thank you! I best return to Italy for some more vin santo soon though 😉 xx

  11. hello Bianca! I’m Italian and I found your recipe of cantuccini yhe most reliable one in internet. So, I made two batches of them and everybody found them perfect. I substituted Vinsanto for Amaretto and we had them with Malvasia Dolce, a D.O.C. wine we produce in Valnure, Colli Piacentini, North west of Milan, Italy. Just now we are grapes harvesting! grazie e ciao

  12. Amazing recipe , very easy to follow ! I made them for my mum and dad in Mauritius when I was on holiday and they loved it . Thank you very much .

  13. Nice recipe. Try substituting 100g of ground almonds for some of the flour. Used vodka and vanilla essence for the booze.

  14. I was reading your cantuccini recipe and saw reference to vin santo. We were in Montepulciano visiting the Avignonesi tasting room. The lady behind the counter didn’t speak English but two of us spoke French as did she. We tasted a lot of wine and bought a fair amount (including the friends back at the villa near Montevarcchi, we were 15–that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). Our hostess then reached under the counter and poured the 6 of us generous glasses of 10 year old grappa di vin santo. It was amazing! Sadly, there was none available for purchase, nott even a current release. I am an armagnac fan and this was on a par with some of the better armagnacs that I have had. Great memories.

  15. I love these cookies, have made regular biscotti. bought some from Carli and have been hooked ever since, will buy them yet from Carli Fratelli, just trying to prove that i will be able to make them, at 91 years young i still have that get up and go. Thanks for your recipe. none will taste as good as Fratelli Ciao

  16. I made these using Apricot liquor instead of the Vin Santo which I think made them a bit too sweet for my taste, but otherwise, one of the better recipes for Biscotti I have found. Thank you.

  17. What a great recipe! Thanks so much for sharing! It was quick and easy.. now for my dad to do the real taste test!

  18. Thank you for this recipe! It’s been a long time since I’ve made biscotti but I can’t wait to try this one out! Thank you for your blog posts and always reminding me how great Italy is. I studied abroad in Florence and love your content… you help me believe that someday I’ll get back there!!

  19. Yes I have made biscotti at home several times we dip the in red wine. I will surely try these. Yes they do remind me of Italy ?? I also make pitzelles.

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