Fresh Cranberry and Chestnut Cantucci
I cannot believe it’s already November, where has the year gone? I have to start making plans for Christmas and have actually been developing Christmas recipes for months but this recipe was not intended to be included. However once they were in the oven and the lovely aroma of roasting chestnuts and orange started to fill the air I felt the spirit of Christmas cheer.
Today was a good day, I’m pretty surprised and pleased with my baking results. A couple of weeks ago we went to Hatfield forest to collect fresh chestnuts. I had not done anything with them as yet and I had left them in the rabbit hutch outside. When my veggie box arrived today with fresh cranberries, it made me think about what to cook with them. So I thought there was no better time to dust off my chestnut stash, roast them,and use them with my lovely fresh cranberries.
While I was flicking through one of the 232 cookbooks scattered around my house, I had this bright idea of making a biscotti with fresh cranberries and chestnuts. I was reading up about biscotti and realised that I have been using this word to describe a recipe which is actually referring to cantucci and that biscotti is the Italian word for biscuit. This made me feel stupid, as it sounds like biscuit and I do not know why it has not clicked before. I know that traditionally cantucci is made with whole blanched almonds and floured with fresh lemon zest but I wanted to be different and change the norm slightly… hope the Italian ancestors do not mind.
They are as pretty as a picture and very tasty indeed. I love the sour tang when you bite on a cranberry, it brings a perfect balance to the sweet crisp biscuit. They will make pretty and perfect gift bags. I will definitely bake them for Christmas eve to enjoy with a glass of mulled wine or two. Mmm finally I can say I’m looking forward to Christmas!
- 300g caster sugar
- 4 medium whole free range eggs + 1 egg for glazing
- 500g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1tsp of baking powder
- Zest of one orange
- Pinch of salt
- 150g freshly roasted, shelled and and roughly chopped chestnuts (Packet of whole cooked chestnuts will be fine)
- 130g fresh whole cranberries
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line one large baking tray with parchment paper.
Weigh the eggs and sugar into the bowl of a mixer, attach the whisk attachment and whip until light fluffy and aerated, whip it for about 5 - 6 minutes at full speed.
Remove the whisk and attach the paddle attachment.
Sift the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder over the whipped egg, add the orange zest, roughly chopped chestnuts and the whole fresh cranberries mix it in on low speed until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Let the dough rest in the bowl in the fridge for 40 minutes to 1 hour, the dough is very soft and sticky, it does make a bit of a mess but well worth the effort.
Turn the chilled dough out onto a floured work surface, divide into two even logs 28cm long x 5cm wide, place the two logs onto the lined baking tray with 10cm gap between the two to allow them to cook evenly and not get stuck together.
Whisk one egg, using a pastry brush brush the egg glaze over the logs.
Bake the cantucci in the preheated oven for 22 - 25 minutes, test if it's cooked by inserting a metal skewer. If the skewer comes out clean then its cooked, if not return to the oven and bake until cooked.
Let the cantucci cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170°C.
Cut the logs into 1cm thick slices and place the slices on two baking trays, place them in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes turn them once during the cooking period, bake the cantucci until dry but not too dark in colour.
Let the cantucci cool completely on a cooling rack and keep them in a clean air tight container for up to two weeks.
Dust them with icing sugar just before serving them with a glass of mulled wine or Vin Santo.
Makes 50 cantucci