Cantuccini feature large in my childhood memories. I associate them with gas stations during car trips in Italy, my father bringing the whole family to tour furniture factories. They were a road trip bribe that my parents somehow convinced me were a treat. I only learned much later that those hard-as-rock "cookies" were best served with - and dipped into -a Tuscan dessert wine, Vin Santo, a tradition I now embrace with open arms. I am also now happy to pass on to my children, especially as Little Boy Green is into making a mess in the kitchen, as daddy does, a delicious cookie that is best served as a "treat".
Little Boy Green is more excited by having cookies than he is in eating them, which suits us fine, Mrs Green is very happy to have more to herself. Much like myself, Little Boy Green's enthusiasm really stems from the making or providing than from the consumption. He particularly enjoyed transferring the cooked cantuccini from one tupperware box to another and back again.
Cantuccini are essentially a dense sweet bread that has been baked, sliced and baked again. Traditionally the concentrated flavour is that of almonds, but not so flavourful as to distract from the first-rate dipping qualities. Outside of Italy cantuccini are most commonly found in coffee shops and dressed up in a variety of flavour combinations. Chocolate, cardamom, lemon/orange zest and other enticing concoctions are common.
We kept it simple for this recipe and will very likely explore flavour medleys in the future, particularly as this recipe is so easy and quick and, more than anything, gives a little someone something to do in the early morning stretch before sunrise...
While the traditional recipe calls for eggs, we use a combination of maple syrup and an overripe medium-sized banana. This lends a banana bread -like flavour to the cantuccini. For a less imposing flavour, go for pureed apple or sweet potato (in the same proportions). Otherwise the texture and taste is fairly authentic. (Tip* baby purees work really well)
- 1 cup/150g of (raw) almonds
- 2 cups/250g wholewheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 medium very ripe (brown spots) banana
- 1 tbs of oil (we use rapeseed)
- 2 tbsp almond extract
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Place the almonds in a food processor and blend, with the S blade, for approximately 10 seconds, or until a coarse crumb has been achieved.
- Add the almond crumbs along with the flour, baking powder and salt to a stand mixer or mixing bowl and combine.
- Mash the banana in a bowl with the maple syrup, oil and almond extract and fold into the dry ingredients.
- Form two balls from the dough and roll out into long "logs"
- Bake for 30 min.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes
- Slice the "logs" into 1cm pieces, lay flat onto the oven tray and bake again for 5-7 minutes, turn the pieces and repeat