About 20 years ago, I received my highly anticipated December edition of Food and Wine magazine, looked through it and decided to make these cookies, although I had no idea what “cantuccini” was. It turns out that they are basically biscotti, but what a colorful and perfectly scrumptious biscotti they are! Back then, I had a difficult time locating raw pistachios, even in Seattle where I lived at the time. These nuts are essential in creating the vivid red and green that makes the cookies so incredibly beautiful. Luckily, I can now find them at Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftway in the bulk department, here in Olympia. A warning however–shelled pistachios are quite expensive. I’ll venture to say though, that these treats are worth every penny. They are also very simple to make if you have a food processor and make great gifts packaged up in a cellophane bag. Have yourself a merry Christmas and happy baking!
Cranberry-Pistachio Christmas Cantuccini
1¾ cup unbleached flour
1 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup dried cranberries
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups shelled, unroasted pistachios
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a large heavy baking sheet.
In food processor, combine the flour with 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Process for a few seconds to blend. Add the dried cranberries and process until coarsely chopped. Add the butter and vanilla. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the pistachios and eggs and pulse 10 times to blend. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse
5 times, just until the dough is evenly moistened.
On lightly floured work surface, divided the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch log. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each. With your hands, flatten the logs to a width of 2-inches and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the logs to a rack to firm up slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a sharp knife and a quick single motion, slice each log on the diagonal into ½ inch slices. Return the biscotti to the baking sheet, cut sides down, and bake just until the first hint of golden brown appears, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen