You might think I am joking, but I am not! Although it is only July, we have started to prepare for Christmas. Most importantly, we have asked us the following question: what would our American friends like to have made available to them?? As I have a pretty sweet tooth, Giovanna, Niccolina and I sat down together to think about a Christmas item that is true to Italian tradition, to Tuscany, can be transported all the way and does not need any preservatives? And something that Americans will also like to eat...If you are shaking your head at this point, wondering why this is so complicated, let me assure you: it ain't easy. Take for example the most classic Christmas cake of all: The Panetone. It comes traditionally from Milan, but has been sitting on dinner tables at Christmas all over Italy for many decades now. Because it is just so darn good. But unfortunately it is impossible to bring it to the US without compromising the natural ingredient list. The humidity, temperature changes, pressure... they would ruin the Panetone, if it were not for preservatives and other additives. Which we do not like in our food. So - no Panetone.
Next big Christmas cake is the Panforte: dried fruit and nuts, it comes from Siena and was once so valuable that it was used as currency: Sienese paid their taxes this way. Giovanna and Niccolina do a Panforte that any king would accept as tax payment even today, but for some reason it is really difficult to convince the American palate of it's yumminess.
So we took the most classic Tuscan cookie - the Cantucci - and varied the ingredients to give it a christmassy taste. Kamut flour, chestnut flour, spelt flour, walnuts, hazelnuts, chocolate, orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom .. you name it, we tried it!
We went through a lot of tasting (which we thoroughly enjoyed) and finally decided on a Cantuccione of …. no telling yet! It will be our November surprise! And if you have any ideas of ingredients for Cantucci, pls. let us know! We would love to hear them!