i’m a sucker for cookies, and i’m not usually discriminating. in my book, they’re all equally welcome. however, i do prefer some specific types of cookies. these cantucci here are among my favorites. not only to make (because they’re real quick and almost always turn out well) – but also to eat (obviously). this fall “edition” is particularly lovely. since here in switzerland we don’t get pumpkin puree everywhere like most of you probably do, i opted for apple mash instead. just a s juicy, and a nice combination with the gingerbread spices.
you can make your own gingerbread spice mix – consisting of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, ginger and sometimes also pepper, coriander, cardamom, anise and nutmeg. i used a pre-mixed gingerbread spice mix, since i really liked that one. i assume it has hints of lemon (rind) in it, since it has a fresh note, too. but making your own is pretty simple, too, for those of you who like to experiment.
apple & gingerbread spice cantucci
recipe inspired by this, as seen on cupcakes and cashmere (i exchanged pumpkin puree with apple sauce, since we don’t get pumpkin puree easily here and i was too lazy to make my own)
makes around 30 (smallish) cantucci
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. gingerbread spice
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp. milk
preheat the oven to 180 c / 350 f and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. in another bowl, combine eggs, vanilla extract and apple sauce. add this to the flour mix and combine with a spatula (or your hands) until a rather thick dough starts to form. empty the dough out onto a floured work surface, knead a bit and shape 2 longish, thin rolls (like bread loafs), that should be relatively flat (you want slim cantucci rather than rounds). bake the whole loaf for about 22 to 25 minutes, or until the log is baked through and firm. remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. then cut thin slices (pinkie width). put them back on the baking sheet. reduce the heat of the oven to 150 c / 300 f and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes. let cool.
make the icing: combine the sugar with a little bit of milk and stir to combine. the icing should be rather thick. pour the icing into a small plastic bag, then cut off one edge to create a tiny hole. ideal piping bag! decorate the cantucci with a zig-zag pattern (aka lines). let dry, then store in an airtight container.
small excursus: i’m well aware that these cookies are called “biscotti” – and not cantucci – in the us and probably elsewhere, too. however, “biscotti” is the generic category description for “cookies”. it simply means “cookies” in italian. the term “biscotto” comes from “bi scotto” which translates to “twice baked”. which makes sense for these cantucci here, since they are actually really twice baked. but ordering a “biscotto” in italy will not bring you that much further, because they will likely ask you “which one?”. there are thousands of great italian biscotti – namely “brutti ma buoni”, “amaretti” or these here “cantucci”. the original “cantuccio”, or “cantuccino” has nuts in it, though. this recipe is wonderful without. ideal to accompany a “ristretto” or “doppio”. tea as well, of course (in my case always tea, please).
fun fact: the italians do not actually have a word for “baking”. isn’t that funny? instead, they simply call it “cuocere al forno”, which translates to “cooked in the oven”. or “bi scotto”, so to say. which brings us back to the start. and, well, it always ends with cookies.