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Cavallucci di Siena

Cavallucci are traditional, rustic biscotti (cookies) that date back to the 16th century when they were frequently given as gifts at special occasions. Based on an original recipe kindly sent in by Jack McNulty.

Time 40 minutes
Skill Level Intermediate

Ingredients List

Serves 20
  • 200 g sugar
  • 100 g honey
  • 500 g flour
  • 100 g candied orange
  • tsp anise seeds
  • 8 medium hazelnuts or walnuts (chopped)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 0.5 cup icing sugar (to coat the cookies)


  1. In a heavy pot, mix together the sugar and honey and melt to a create a thick syrup.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the prepared syrup with the flour, baking powder, crushed seeds, diced candied fruit, chopped walnuts and a pinch of salt. The dough should be a bit on the dry side, but if necessary, wet with a little soy or rice milk.
  3. Allow the dough to rest about 5 minutes, then form into large balls about the size of an egg.
  4. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes at 180° C (don’t allow the cookies to brown).
  5. Immediately roll the cookies in powdered sugar.
  6. Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.

Their name seems to stem from the cavalli (horses) used for delivering the mail. It is believed that the postal workers who substituted the tired horses with new horses ate the cookies on a regular basis.

The cookies are round and fairly large with an irregular shape. They were once made using only flour, a little sugar, anise seeds and a couple of walnuts.

Today they are made with acacia honey, melted sugar over low heat, mixed with flour, chopped and toasted almonds, minced candied citron and orange, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander powder and a pinch of baking soda.