Coming back to Europe wasn’t something I was particularly excited, when I was on the beach in Panama last Sunday and successfully blocked out any thought of actually going back to a part of the world which has autumn (if not winter) stamped all over its forehead.
But now I am back and there’s nothing I can do about it, besides seeing a light at the end of a rainy and foggy tunnel: the upcoming holiday season – and ok, still dreaming about the many places I have visited recently.
This got me curious about how different cultures embrace the holiday season – we all know that our American friends are kicking the festivities off this week with Thanksgiving, but what do you others do?
In Germany we will start hitting traditional Christimas markets as of December 1 – and many of us will dedicate the the upcoming weekends to holiday baking already to have Christmas cookies and ginger bread ready for those cosy Advent sundays on the couch with a mug of coffee or tea.
As part of an merely Italy-obsessed family, the idea of recreating an old favorite of mine – traditionally not a christmas cookie, but a delicious biscuit which reminds me of Advent as my mom loves to make it during the colder season: biscotti – or cantuccini de Prato: an almond biscuit, you surely came across already.
HOW DO ITALIANS EAT THEM? SOME CANTUCCINI CULTURE.
Cantuccini actually means “coming from Tuscany” – and that is where it’s origins are: Prato near Florence/ Italy.
In some parts of Italy, they can also be called biscotti, which translates into “twice – baked” – try one and you know why:
Cantuccini are traditionally hard, dry and crunchy – they are not old, the dryness is exactly what makes it authentic – as these biscuits are supposed to be dunked before eating.
Italians are very particular about in what to dunk a cantuccini di prato – and it’s NOT coffee (note to myself) – and there is actually only one time and place (and drink) to enjoy it (with): vin santo – a tuscany dessert wine served after dinner.
In Catalunia/ Spain, a similar biscuit called carquinyoli is served with a sweet vino, like muscat.
This might how Christopher Columbus came to like them, as he was known to take the hard biscuits onto his adventures, as they would not turn bad as quickly. The Spanish love them as much as you and I – that’s maybe why also in Argentinia it is a popular dessert cookie.
I warned you, if you are in Tuscany, you should not even dream about combining a cantuccini with coffee – but I have to admit I experienced them going extremely well with cappuccino or hot chocolate. Dare to try it.
Always on the hunt for local delicacies, I was eager to try this almond-based biscuit as it seemed easy to adapt to paleo requirements – an to my delight, it even meats low-carb, even ketogenic diet requirements, which makes it even more tempting for me to top my greek yoghurt with or simply drain in coffee pre-Christmas (yes, I will).
— LOW-CARB — PALEO — LCHF — GLUTEN-FREE — GRAIN-FREE — SUGAR-FREE — DAIRY-FREE —
- 2 medium eggs
- 150 g | 5 oz ground almonds
- 50 g | 2 oz roughly chopped almonds
- 25 ml | 1 oz coconut oil
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp guar gum
- 1 splash vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp liquid, paleo conform sweetner (stevia, agave, honey or maple)
- 1 pinch of salt
- Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and subsequently add the liquid ones.
- Stir the mix very well and make sure the chopped almonds are incorporated thoroughly.
- Let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes and prep your baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
- Form the cookie dough into a 3cm | 1in log and place it onto the baking paper.
- Bake the logs at 160°C | 320 °F for 25 minutes.
- Cut the logs into 13 -15 biscuits and distribute them evenly on the baking sheet again.
- Bake the cantuccini for another 10 minutes to harden up.
- Serve them oven warm or store them into an air tight cookie jar.