Not too happy about the new Italian government. I have little faith. So, off with the TV and into the kitchen.
I've tried to make these traditional Tuscan treats for about a month now. I think I have concocted a good recipe. They are supposed to be hard. Almost break your teeth hard. This makes them great candidates for dunking in various beverages. I know
some people dunk them in their cappuccini. I like to dip them in a desert wine called Vin Santo; yet another Tuscan delight. If you can't find Vin Santo you can also use Passito (a Sicilian desert wine). I don't know any alternatives to those two wines
So, here goes:
Don't preheat your oven.
250g GF flour mix (mine is 65% white rice, 25% potato starch, 10%tapioca starch)
50g masa harina (super fine corn meal)
1 tsp xanthan gum
230g sugar (I used 140g raw + 90g white: Why? because it is all I had in the pantry :-)
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
120g halved or roughly chopped raw almonds with the skins on (Use good quality, fresh almonds. Old almonds ruin these cookies.)
3 large eggs
40g softened butter
1/2 tsp almond extract (I used bitter almond extract. Why? Because I can. I understand it is not available in the US because unless it has been treated it can make humans ill. Ours is treated. Use your kind, it should be ok just not as strong as the bitter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Don't use a food processor.
Mix flours, xanthan gun, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl with a whisk. Add the almonds. Mix well.
Add eggs, butter and extracts and mix well with a rubber scraper or rubber spoon. This mixture gets pretty sticky wet.
Once completely mixed, let the mixture rest. Turn on the oven and heat to 300°F. Let the mixture sit while the oven heats. I have practiced and find that the rice flour absorbs the liquids and the outcome leaves a less gritty product. Have faith.
Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper.
When the oven is heated to 300°F wet your hands with water. Use your hands to collect half the mixture. Form it into a roll approximately 2-3 inches wide. Place it on the baking sheet. Do the same to the rest of the mixture. You should have two 8
inch long 2.5 inch wide "loaves".
They shouldn't be a perfect loaf shape. If you have ever seen a hand rolled Tuscan cigar, the loaves should look like one of those (the shape not the size). The ends should taper slightly.
Bake them for about 20-25 minutes or until they are light brown and firm to the touch. Take them out of the oven. Now there are two schools of thought here.
One school says cut them immediately while hot and pop them back into the oven until golden brown. The other school says let them cool down for 10 minutes then finish the process. I've tried both ways.
I say take them out of the oven. Wait as many minutes you need where the loaves are cool enough to touch them and not burn your fingers. This depends on the temperature of your kitchen at the time of baking. Then cut the loaves into diagonal one inch
pieces. Lay them onto one side and bake again until they are nice and golden brown. Flip them so they get nice and golden on each side. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
Let them cool before eating. The harder the better. These are good to bake in the morning so they are ready for desert that evening or even for breakfast the day after and after.