In Italy, when visitors drop in at one's house in the afternoon they are welcomed with a glass of Vin Santo and sweet biscuits that resemble biscotti but which are smaller. This makes it easier to dip them into the wine glass. However for people who do not drink alcohol, this is a recipe of delicious sugar-free Cantucci served with pure apple juice simmered with raisins. It still tastes wickedly sweet, but is more wholesome and a lovely treat to have with guests.
3 cups good quality, clear apple juice (preferably home-juiced)
½ cup raisins
2 tbsp apple syrup
2 tbsp wholemeal spelt flour
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp ground linseeds (flaxseeds)
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 tbsp apple syrup
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tsp vanilla-infused grape-seed oil / walnut oil
2 tsp almond butter
1 tsp almond essence
2 tbsp natural almonds
1. For the apple nectar: Simmer 1½ cups of the apple juice with the raisins and apple syrup for 5 minutes. Cool completely. Strain off the raisins and add the reduced apple juice to the remaining 1½ cups of apple juice. Refrigerate.
2. Make the starter dough: stir the 2 tbsp of spelt flour and 2 tbsp of water together. Leave for a day on the kitchen counter covered with a damp piece of absorbent kitchen towel. Stir a few times.
3. When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 190°C (370°F). Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment.
4. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
5. Mix the liquid ingredients together in a cup. Add the starter, mix and pour into the dry ingredients. Fold the ingredients together to incorporate as much air as possible.
6. Pat the dough into a log. Make a shallow cut in the centre down the length of the log. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Lower the oven's temperature to 150°C (300°F).
8. Cut the log into 1.5 cm thick slices. Dry the 'Cantucci' in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
9. To serve, place the 'Cantucci' on a serving plate. Pour a glass of apple nectar for each person in which to dip the 'Cantucci'.
Resting the cooled log in the refrigerator overnight makes it easier to cut into slices.
Laurinda Erasmus is a vegan chef and author of a vegan recipe book, called Benessere well-being: vegan & sugar-free eating for a healthy life-style, by Quinoa Publishing. The book has over 520 recipes, each with a colour photograph, taken by the author herself. The book won a gold medal at the Living Now Book Awards in New York, USA. She is passionate about the vast possibilities of creating plant-based meals, the increased wellness and energy through plant nutrition and making a smaller impact on our precious ecosystem. Through her book and vegan classes, she shows healthy and fun ways of how to bring more plant-based meals into one's diet. She also travels extensively, always collecting new recipes and re-writing them as vegan dishes. She shares her tips for vegan travellers with accompanied vegan travel recipes on her blogsite http://veganwellbeing.wordpress.com/ and to view her vegan recipe book see http://www.veganwellbeing.net/.