Chef Roger Thomas has been a fixture in the Akron dining scene since he began his career at the former Wine Merchant restaurant, which he later owned. Since then, Thomas has cooked at Ken Stewart's Grille and owned Piatto in downtown Akron, before moving to the Sheraton Akron/Cuyahoga Falls, where he is executive chef.

These are one of my favorite Italian cookies.

The cantuccini are dear to me because I made them in Tuscany.

CANTUCCINI MONTATI

2¼ cups flour

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp. nutmeg

Tiny pinch white pepper

1¾ tsp. baking powder

1½ cups sliced almonds

3 eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla

2 oz. melted butter

Line two half-sheet pans with parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a large mixing bowl to whisk together the flour, sugar, nutmeg, white pepper and baking powder. Stir the almonds into the dry mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla until frothy, then whisk in melted butter. Gently but thoroughly mix the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, and continue to mix until a slightly firm dough forms.

Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a log about 1 inch shorter than the length of the half-sheet pans. Place both the rolls onto one of the sheet pans, with equal space between the rolls and the sides of the pan. Slightly flatten the top of each roll with your palm. Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are slightly browned, about double in size and the center of the roll is somewhat firm to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes. Remove rolls from pan and cool them completely on a rack, reserving the half sheet pan for later.

Use a sharp, finely serrated knife to slice each roll into ?-inch thick slices on a slight diagonal. Lay the sliced cookies on the sheet pans (you will use both of them) in rows with no space between them. Return the cookies to the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are dry and are just beginning to brown around the edges.

Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cookies to cool to room temperature. Gently dust the cookies with a shaker of powdered sugar and store them in an airtight container, separating the layers with parchment or waxed paper.

Makes about 4 dozen.