I was unsure whether to use their Italian, Spanish or Catalan name when giving this post its title but in the end I chose the name by which they are known in England - Biscotti. They are called Cantucci or Cantuccini in Italy, Carquinyoles and Carquinyolis in Spain and Catalonia.
The almond plays an important part in the cuisine of all the Mediterranean countries, you'll find it equally in savoury and sweet recipes, rich in vegetable protein and calcium it is an ideal food for anyone looking to improve their diet.
My recipe contains aniseed, mildly addictive for horses and humans. I spent my youth trying to catch difficult ponies walking for hours in ever decreasing circles in the hope of catching some cunning New Forest pony who would outwit me every time. Until someone told me that a bit of anise oil on a sugar lump will turn you into the equivalent of the pied piper for horses. I suspect it is the same for people. When I offer these to house guest, I watch them returning to the biscuit jar all day long, one is never enough.
The secret to making a biscotti (means twice cooked in Italian) is to cook them so they rise a little and are cooked but still pale on the first cooking. Then they are cut and cooked again in order to dry them out. So you end up with a biscuit that is hard and dry but melts in the mouth. You don't want to break your teeth! I always make a large batch as they keep for months in a jar.
500 g plain flour
350 g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons aniseed's
250 g whole, unpeeled almonds
5 large eggs
How to go about it
Preheat the oven 180°c. Prepare 2 large baking trays and put baking paper on each one. In a bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla sugar, aniseed and almonds, mix all together. Lightly beat the eggs in another bowl and add to the flour bowl until you have a sticky dough, you might not need all of the eggs. It will be sticky. Turn out onto floured work surface, have extra flour available if needed. Divide into 6 equal parts. If you like you could weigh it and divide by 6 to make it more equal. Roll each amount into a long sausage shape and place 3 on each tray. Bake trays separately if your oven doesn't bake evenly for 25 minutes a time, keep an eye on them as they can burn easily, especially underneath. They should be light golden. Roll off of the tray and paper and cut diagonally. Put paper back on the tray and place cut biscotti, cut side down on paper. When they have all had the first cooking reduce the oven to 100°c and then put both trays back in the oven and bake for 1h30. Turn off oven and leave them in the oven overnight, with out opening the door. Next day put them in a jar or other airtight container.