>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010
No, no, no... these are not cantuccini... these are carquinyolis... totally different... (ahem). I'd been wanting to make these typical Catalan cookies for a long time (do I start my posts like this too often?...). As you probably know, this type of twice baked cookies, first as a loaf and then sliced, are known as cantuccini in Italy and they also exist in Jewish ashkenazi cookery, with the name of mandelbrot, almond bread. They are typical in Catalonia, on the Northeast corner of Spain. When I was a child we used to spend part of our summer holiday camping in Catalonia and my parents used to buy carquinyolis. I didn't eat them though... didn't know what I was missing.
I've found the recipe at the lovely Catalan blog La cuina vermella. I've increased the amounts by 50 %, I've used white spelt instead of regular flour, and I've "adulterated" the cookies by adding some dried cherries... just to add a colour touch (heresy! I beg the Catalans pardon... please bear with me).
Spelt carquinyolis (yields approx. 35 carquinyolis)
- 600g spelt flour, white (all-purpose flour can be substituted, of course)
- 350g sugar
- 90g almond meal or ground almonds (what's the right name?)
- 100g unskinned, unroasted almonds
- 90g dried cherries (or any other colorful dried fruit)
- 1 tbsp leaven, not completely heaped
- 3/4 tbsp cinammon
- Lemon zest
- 4-5 medium eggs (it depends on the size of the eggs, the dough mustn't be dry, but sticky) and another egg for brushing the loafs before baking
In the meantime heat the oven to 180 ºC. Divide the dough in two and, on a well-floured counter, form two loafs that can fit in one baking sheet. Transfer the loafs to the sheet, lined with parchment paper. Brush the loafs with the beaten egg (I forgot this step!). Put the loafs in the oven and bake half an hour. The loafs have to be somewhat thin, as they rise quite a lot in the oven. After 30 minutes, try for doneness with a toothpick. Take them out to a cooling rack and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Then slice them with a good serrated knife into 1 cm-thick slices, more or less. I'm not capable of cutting thinner slices. Then put the slices back on the baking sheet and back into the oven for 10 minutes to brown. Turn them once when half baked, to brown on both sides. When done take them out to cool on a rack.
For those who've never had this type of cookie before, they are hard and very crunchy. Catalans dunk them in mistela... mmm. I vouch that at home we have dunked them in cava last Christmas. A lot of cava. Really a lot. Loads of cava. I don't know if this is accepted as a traditional way to have carquinyolis, but what the hell, they're delicious that way...