I succeeded to post the recipe at the second attempt. I baked this biscotti for the first time early this summer for a special Tuscan dinner with friends, writing the ingredients on a small piece of paper and losing it as expected at the end of the evening. It’s always the same: you put the notes scribbled down with codes and abbreviations that only you can understand in that book because you are sure you will easily remember that it is there, except then forgetting about it after 5 minutes, giving the recipe for missing for the months to come.
The same happened with the small duvet buttons, put into the box on the shelf because it was clear that I would have searched for them there the next year… and of course I secured the duvet to the sheets with pegs for months! And it happened again with the new necklace I bought in Germany, put in the most obvious and easy place to remember and found at the end of the season during the wardrobe change, just by chance.
But here I admit it, Your Honor, I’m a persistent offender with recipe notes. I even bought a black Moleskine just for my recipes, but most of the times I forget to write there ingredients, temperature and steps on the glossy pages of my diary.
As in the best fairy tales, when you least expect it the slip of paper comes out, and the only thing you need to do is to decrypt with archaeologist attention my infamous abbreviations, so obvious when you note them down for the first time, so obscure when you find out the recipe months later.
After having sent a good bunch of darns to the past me, who insists on writing half in Italian and half in English, hopping from language to language and from units of measurement to units of measurement, I eventually managed to reconstruct the basic recipe of the cantuccini made with chestnut flour.
Since in this period I’m playing with alternative flour and sweeteners, influenced Heidi Swanson‘s useful and mind-opening books, I slightly changed the original cantuccini recipe, trying to make them mirror the amazing colours and flavours of autumn.
I chose the chestnut flour, so sweet, and a whole oat flour, enchanted by how Heidi describes it: in her opinion it gives a moist and creamy sweetness to cookies and cakes. Just to bring these biscotti a step further in the scale of indulgence, I stirred in a generous handful of 70% dark chocolate drops, strong and slightly bitter. Now pull out the vinsanto, the cantuccini are ready!
- 3 free range eggs
- 180 g of row cane sugar
- 150 g of whole oat flour
- 200 g of chestnut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons of whole milk
- 100 g of 70% dark chocolate drops
- 100 g of almonds
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them with the raw cane sugar.
- When the sugar has melted, add the chestnut flour and the oat flour sifted with the baking powder, then stir in three tablespoons of whole milk, the whole almonds and the chocolate drops.
- Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spoon the dough over the tray to form two flat loaves, about 5 cm large and 2 cm thick. Keep them well separated so that they do not stick while baking.
- Bake them for about 25 minutes, then remove them from the oven, cut them slantwise into 2 cm thick slices, then arrange them a cut side down on the tray and bake them for 5 more minutes, until slightly golden brown.
- Let them cool down on a wire rack, then store them in a tin box.
You can store the chestnut flour in a tightly closed plastic box or bag in the freezer: since it is obtained from dried chestnuts, it will keep the floury texture, without turning into a frozen brick.
For an improvised snack with the dear flavour of the ancient times just stir the sweet flour with water until you get a smooth and liquid batter, similar to the pancake mixture. Brush with extra-virgin olive a small non-stick pan, heat it on the stove and pour a spoonful of batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Cook for a very few minutes on both sides and enjoy necci, chestnut pancakes typical of the Garfagnana area, simply good with just a dusting of icing sugar or a spoonful of fresh ricotta.
If you love chestnut flour just like I do – after all when you taste the best quality chestnut flour it will be like having a chestnut melting on your tongue, such a real taste -, do not miss castagnaccio, the most typical and rustic chestnut cake, made just with olive oil, rosemary, raisins and pine nuts.