Cantuccini Di Prato (Almond Cookies)

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
Zest 1 large orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole, blanched almonds
3 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients  such as flour, sugar, baking powder, zest, and stir. Add the almonds and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients above and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. The dough will be a little dry.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and begin mixing it together. Knead it for a few minutes until it comes together to form a firm dough. Divide the dough in half and shape it into two, 12 inch logs. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the logs for 30 minutes. The logs should rise and be golden to light brown on the bottom.

When ready, transfer the logs to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once cooled, slice the logs, on a diagonal, into 1/4 inch slices. Lay the slices, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the cantuccini are dry and lightly golden.  Eat warm or cool. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks. Be sure to completely cool them first before storing.

Cantuccini, also called  Cantuccini di Prato,  are typical small Tuscan almond cookies that are customarily served  at the end of a meal or as a afternoon treat with Vin Santo. I like the tradition  of serving  cantuccini with the Vin Santo, however I enjoy them so much, I dip them in my cappuccino. Yes, I know cappuccino is for breakfast only.. but I'm in America now and I can break someItalian rules!!!

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