I am lucky to have travelled all over Europe since a young age and visited many of its cities more than once. My parents love travelling as much as I do, so every year we would discover a new destination together. And yet there are so many places I haven’t been to. There is so much to discover in Europe, because every city and region has its own traditions, dialects and recipes.

A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti.

Nowadays I fly a lot to Europe for weekend getaways, but these short trips can be quite expensive when you add up travel and accommodation costs. A great way to discover the diversity of European cities in one holiday is taking a cruise in the Mediterranean or Baltic Seas: every morning you will wake up somewhere incredible, with the whole day ahead of you to explore a new destination. Imagine eating tapas in Barcelona one day and pizza in Naples the next; tasting freshly made socca in Nice and eating the best cicchetti in Venice; drinking Tuscan wine and eating Greek tiropitakia cheese pies. Every day is truly different on a cruise holiday. 

A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti.

I am excited to announce that I have teamed up with Royal Caribbean to promote the launch of their latest ship Ovation of The Seas, the third ship in the game-changing Quantum Class series. Ovation of the Seas is launching this month and will sail the Mediterranean throughout April and and May, before heading to Dubai and from there start a 52-day Global Odyssey tour to the East.

To celebrate the launch, Royal Caribbean has collated tips from Instagrammers and bloggers from the UK and Europe to highlight the best of the European destinations that Ovation of The Seas will travel to. The photos will form a mosaic piece of art featured on Royal Caribbean’s InstagramIn 27 posts, Royal Caribbean will show Ovation of the Seas as she travels to different destinations, creating one final image which features a Bird’s Eye view of the ship with the European stops on each side. Make sure to follow Royal Caribbean on Instagram to see the final art piece when it will be completed in a few weeks.

I was asked to contribute to the mosaic with a traditional European recipe. I chose to make Cantucci, the original “biscotti” recipe from Tuscany which is popular across Italy and has made its way across Europe now too.

A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti. A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti.

Let’s talk about this recipe. Cantucci are Italian almond biscotti that are twice-baked, oblong-shaped, dry and crunchy. They are traditionally eaten after a meal, dipped in Vin Santo or other sweet wines. If you have never tried Cantucci before or if you’ve only ever eaten the shop-bought ones, then stop reading this post and head straight into your kitchen to make this recipe. It’s incredibly easy and quick, and I promise you, you will have your biscuits ready in one hour.

I shared a recipe for hazelnut cantucci a few years ago, but I find my new recipe for almond cantucci to be easier and better. I was given this recipe from Lisa at Le Poggiola, a farmhouse near Pistoia which I visited three years ago (you can read about it here). I adapted Lisa’s recipe with elements from my old recipe as well as one from Emiko Davies‘ blog (my go to website for Tuscan recipes together with Jul’s Kitchen).

A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti.

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g wholemeal flour
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • zest of one unwaxed lemon
  • 1 sachet of Pane degli Angeli baking powder (16g)
  • 200g unblanched whole almonds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg for brushing

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Toast the almonds lightly on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the melted butter. Gradually add in the flour mixture. Finally add the almonds and mix all together.

Line an oven tray with baking paper. Divide the dough between two or more logs, each about 4 fingers wide (if the dough is too sticky just keep your hands wet). Brush the logs with one beaten egg.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until slightly golden and firm. They should not be fully cooked at this stage, otherwise they will crumble when you slice the logs. Take out of the oven and cool for a couple of minutes. Slice the logs at a 45-degree angle into cookies about 1.5-2cm wide. Lay each with one cut side up on the baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes or until crunchy and golden.

Serve with a small glass of Vin Santo for dipping.

A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti. A traditional Tuscan recipe: Cantucci biscotti.

Follow the Ovation of The Seas’ journey on Royal Caribbean’s Instagram and why not, book a once-in-a-lifetime European holiday on board of their latest ship!

Disclaimer: this post was written in collaboration with Royal Caribbean. All opinions are my own.

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