Cantuccini di Prato
Cantuccini di Prato (adapted from Gourmet Magazine, December 1992)
3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp double acting baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 2/3 cups almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
an egg wash: 1 egg, 1 tsp water, beaten together
Blend the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until well-combined. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract and add to flour mixture, beating until a dough is formed. Stir in almonds.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead it until it comes together in a sticky dough. Divide it into two or three portions. Roll each portion into a log, about 12 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Place each log on a baking sheet covered with parchment (or wax) paper, separating logs by at least 2 inches. Press logs lightly to spread out a bit. Brush tops of flattened logs with egg wash generously. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. On a cutting board, slice logs crosswise into 3/4 inch slices and arrange slices cut sides down on the baking sheets. Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes on each side until the cookies are pale golden and the almonds are just starting to color. Transfer to racks to cool and allow them to cool completely. They should be very dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.
These are great with coffee, but traditionally are served at the close of an Italian meal with the sweet wine called vin Santo. Buon appetito!