Close-up of chocolate almond biscotti.
American Biscotti Actually Have A Different Name In Italy
By Nico Danilovich
In the U.S., "biscotti" refers to "a crisp cookie or biscuit of Italian origin that is flavored usually with anise and [hazelnuts] or almonds."
In Italy, "Biscotti" is a catch-all term for cookies, so it wouldn't accurately describe the food. "Cantucci" refers to the crackly and crumbly confections firm enough for dipping.
In the 14th century, bakeries in the Tuscan city of Prato used almonds to make Biscotti di Prato, and when Christopher Columbus came to America, he took the food with him.
In America, the "di Prato" moniker was dropped, presumably for convenience, but in Italy, "cantucci" replaced the name, likely because other cities started producing this treat.
The term "cantucci" is derived from "cantuccio," which Italians call a nook or the end slice of a bread loaf — appropriate, considering cantucci is little and crusty.
Cantucci almost always features almonds as well as fruity essences in the form of orange juice, oil, or zest. However, cantucci is often less sweet than American biscotti.