Ricciarelli are delicious soft chewy almond cookies originating from Sienna in Italy. Traditionally served and given at Christmas time. Quick and easy to make and natually gluten free.
What are Ricciarelli?
Pronounced ‘reach-ee-a-relly,’ Ricciarelli are delicious Italian almond cookies, sweet chewy and melt in the mouth.
A type of macaroon they are made from the same ingredients as their chic fancy French Macaron cousins but are more rustic in presentation and style and I think all the more delightful for it. They are also much easier to make!
Legend has it that the origin of Ricciarelli di Siena dates back to the 14th century when they were introduced by Ricciardetto della Gherardesca in his castle near Volterra upon his return from the Crusades. - Source Wikipedia.
Certainly by the 15th century Siena was famous for its production of almond paste (marzipan) from which cookies were also made. They were so valuable at the time these they were sold in the apothecaries shops along with drugs and the most exotic spices of the time.
Traditionally eaten at Christmas in Italy, in many ways it would be a shame to limit them to just this time of the year. They make a perfect mini treat with afternoon tea.
But they do also make a lovely gift that is easy to make. Simply pack them into a pretty box or tie in clear cellophane bags.
A couple packed into a mini bag would make a delightful table gift at Christmas or indeed any special meal. You could put a label on them and use as place markers. Or simply serve on a plate at the end of dinner as a petit four.
These cookies keep well stored in a tin and should keep for up to a month although I have not manged to keep them that long without scoffing them! Trust me oe is never enough of these yummy cookies. I've found that they became softer and more chewy after a day or so.
How to serve ricciarelli
In Italy, ricciarelli are often served with a sweet wine such as vin santo. They are also perfect to serve with a cup of coffee or tea. These cookies are usually heavily dusted with icing sugar but personally, I prefer them with a lighter dusting as they are already quite sweet.
The almonds are first toasted until golden. Then once cooled they are ground finely in a food processor.
Next make a meringue. Almond extract and the ground almonds are added to the meringue and mixed until combined.
Traditional recipes for ricciarelli leave the almond mixture to stand for 1 to 2 days before baking and I have to confess I have yet to try this to see what, if any difference, this would make.
Finally the mixture is spooned onto lined baking sheets ( I used two teaspoons to get the traditional oval shape) and baked.
Ricciarelli step by step
- 300 g (10oz) whole blanched almonds
- 225 g (8oz)golden caster sugar
- ½ lemon grated zest
- 2 large egg whites
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- Icing sugar for dusting
- 2 Baking sheets
- food processor
- Preheat the oven to 180℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4. Place 300g (10oz) almonds on a baking sheet and roast them for 10–15 minutes until just golden. Leave to cool.
- Blitz the almonds with 125g (4oz) caster sugar and the zest of ½ lemon in a food processor until very finely ground.
- Place 2 eggs whites in a large mixing bowl and whisk until standing in stiff peaks. Gradually add the 125g (4oz) caster sugar a spoon full at a time whisking well after each addition.
- Add the ground almond mixture, ½ tsp almond extract and cornflour. Fold in with a metal spoon or spatula until well combined.
- Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchmentor a reusable liner. Using two teaspoon scoop up a spoonful of the mixture and shape into an oval shape before transfering to the prepared baking sheets. Allow space a round the biscuits as they will expand during cooking.
- Bake for about 10–15 minutes, or until pale golden. Allow to cool on the baking sheet. Serve dusted with icing sugar.