Cavallucci Toscani, also called Cavallucci di Siena, are a beloved treat in the Tuscan city, especially during Christmas. While their looks may not impress, their taste will undoubtedly win you over. Today, we’ll delve into the history and recipe of this scrumptious dessert.
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Cavallucci di Siena: its story and origin
Cavallucci Toscani have a rich history dating back to Lorenzo Il Magnifico’s time in the 16th century. Originally known as Berriguocoli, these cookies got their unique name from being offered to horse drivers at country inns and post houses where they exchanged horses. In fact, the Italian translation of “horse” is “cavalli”.
For this reason, this story becomes more curious. In fact, Siena is renowned globally for its biannual horse race, the Palio di Siena, hosted in the iconic Piazza del Campo. It’s intriguing to note the link between this famous sweet and horses. Additionally, the recipe for Cavallucci boasts simple ingredients, as is common in many Tuscan culinary traditions.
During the 1515 Concistoro festival in Siena, for the first time, biscuits were distributed to the public. As said, these biscuits were called “Berriguocoli,” which were very similar to Cavallucci. However, this is not the only name by which they are known. During the Middle Ages, Siena expanded its territory and exported its sweets along with municipal laws to the high Maremma. Massa Marittima, one of the most important cities in the area, produced it, which took on a different name: “Morsetti.”
I Cavallucci have an irregular shape due to the handmade process. They are not difficult to make and the traditional recipe calls for the use of honey, citron, almonds, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander. Candied fruits like citron or orange are also added. Moreover, it is common to enjoy these biscuits by dipping them into a glass of Vinsanto, which enhances their flavor.
Cavalucci: the traditional recipe
- 500 g Flour
- 200 g Sugar
- 40 g Citron
- 40 g Orange
- 100 g Acacia Honey
- 15 g Anise
- 100 G Almonds
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Coriander
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- Place granulated sugar, honey, and water in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the mixture forms a smooth syrup.
- While the syrup is being prepared, take a bowl and mix sifted flour, crushed anise seeds, chopped walnuts, diced candied orange and citron, cinnamon, and baking soda until well combined.
- Next, pour the syrup into the bowl containing the dry ingredients along with the anise seeds, walnuts, candied orange and citron, cinnamon, and baking soda. Use a spoon to thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together.
- Once the mixture of sugar and honey has thickened to the point of "spinning," remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl of other ingredients. Stir everything together until it is well incorporated.
- Dust your hands with flour and shape the dough into balls. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure to leave enough space between each ball. Use your fingertips to gently press down on the center of each ball, flattening them slightly.
- After removing the baking sheet from the oven, allow the dough to cool for 5 minutes before shaping them into round cookies.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for approximately 15/20 minutes.