Many years ago a family friend returned from a trip to Milan with a package of biscotti for us as a gift. They were wonderful and unlike anything we had ever tasted. We hoarded them until they were gone. I was fascinated by the unique flavor of those biscotti, and being interested in cooking myself I began to do some research on the subject. I came across a recipe credited to a man from Prato in Northern Italy named Datini. He was a business man who lived in the fourteenth century, and along with inventing the invoice he was also interested in food. His recipe was the origin of the almond Cantucci which is enjoyed with Vin Santo by Italians today. It is very hard, and should be dipped in the sweet wine to be properly appreciated.
For the next fifteen years or so I experimented with Datini’s recipe. During the holidays we gave them to family and friends, and they became a staple at our house. I only used the original ingredients of Tuscany which were saffron or anise and almonds. These ingredients represented to me the true origin of the flavor that interested me. I found that the biscotti which is served in coffee shops in America is lacking in many ways. The texture is usually wrong, and certainly there were no chocolate chips in Italy 5 or 6 hundred years ago.