Ricciarelli, Siena’s almond cookies

Date gennaio 6, 2011

Ricciarelli

This date is written in red on the calendar like every other holiday… yet it is not a common one! January the 6th is red, vivid among the first days of the year, the last day of a joyful carousel of many other jolly numbers as red as candy apples… but there’s something more behind its holiday appearance. December the 25th is a full holiday,with a sense in itself. January the 1st, again, is another holiday that makes sense on itself, standing at the beginning of the calendar, waiting for other red numbers to join the party. But what about January the 6th? What about La Befana (as we call this day)? The 6th is meant to be the last in line, the one that turns off the lights and closes the door.

And then, the silence.

Sadness? Absolutely not! A joyful holiday season is finished, this year more homely and warm than usual, but we’re ready to live another season just as good! Have you noticed that the days are getting longer bit by bit? The light is regaining its kingdom, the air smells of novelty, such as my diary with only a few appointments marked, New Year’s resolutions begin to come true… or maybe not… The important thing is that today starts a cycle that will lead us to talk about strawberries, ice cream and picnic blankets in the blink of an eye!

As spring is still far away for the moment, before closing the door to the festivities and turning out the lights, let me make the last swan song of the Christmas period. If you eat one of these, you can not keep yourself from grasping a second one, and so on. Let me introduce you ricciarellialmond sweets typical of Siena, covered with icing sugar, with a soft heart that melts in your mouth, fresh and moist, characterized by the piercing smell of bitter almonds.

The origin of ricciarelli di Siena dates back to the fifteenth century: the almond paste – in the form of marzipan or Marzapanetti – was once very popular in the town and Siena was famous even outside its territory for its production. The cookies made with almond paste were reserved for the sumptuous banquet of the Lords because they were made of precious ingredients, mainly almonds and sugar. They were so valuable and refined that marzipan sweets were sold in the apothecaries shops  along with drugs and the most exotic spices of the time.

This recipe comes from the grocery shop Rosi in Poggibonsi (SI), slightly revised. Last year I followed their doses to make cavallucci - very good - this year I tried ricciarelli - the real ricciarelli di Siena - and next year I already know that I will venture myself to the panforte (gingerbread). I love to enter their shop during the holidays because it is full of smells of spices, happy-eyed children and chocolate… but, most importantly, it is full of people talking in code: can you give me the ricciarelli dose for three? stuff for cavallucci without candied fruit, double nuts. Gimme my usual and gimme the spices, too. It’s a turnaround of numbers, doses, tips offered in a lowered voice, small pieces of written paper and puffs of icing sugar, and the result is this! Ricciarelli di Siena.

Ricciarelli

Ingredients for about 20 ricciarelli:

  • egg whites, 2
  • lemon juice, 1 drop
  • icing sugar, 200 g
  • ground almond flour, 200 g
  • bitter almond extract, 2 tablespoons
  • seeds from 1 pod of vanilla
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • extra icing sugar, about 200 g
  • white wafer, 1 large sheet (about as large as a  A4 paper)

The night before. Whip the egg whites with a drop of lemon juice to stiff peaks. Fold in 200 g of icing sugar and the ground almond flour. Mix in the bitter almond extract, the grated peel of one orange and the vanilla seeds. Cover with cling-film and set aside in the fridge overnight (or at least for 4 hours).

The day after. Cut out about twenty (approximately 7 cm x 4 cm) ovals from the wafer sheet: they are meant to be the basis of ricciarelli. Place the extra icing sugar on a working surface. Roll the rough into a sausage and cut out small balls of dough. with powdered sugar a work plan. Shape the dough with your hands to cover the wafer oval. Make it about 1 cm thick and coat the shaped cookies with extra icing sugar (about 5 mm thick). Arrange them on a baking tin lined with parchment paper or a silicone sheet.

Bake in preheated oven to 160°C for about 18 minutes. They will resemble crinkle cookies. When you remove them from the oven, they will be still soft and moist, but don’t worry! they will reach the ideal texture once cooled down. Store them in an airtight container.. the day after they are even better!

And if I can’t find almond flour? Don’t worry, you can make it at home! Buy the almonds, shell them and remove the outer brown skin (to remove it quickly immerse them for about ten seconds in boiling water). Toast the almonds in the oven at 100°C for about 5 minutes and then let them cool down. Blend them with a tablespoon of icing sugar. Pulse the mixer several times using the pulse function or by pushing the “on” button, holding for a second, and releasing. The goal is not over heating the almonds, otherwise they will release the oil. Blend until you get the consistency of a medium – fine and coarse meal.

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56 Responses to “Ricciarelli, Siena’s almond cookies”

  1. Zita said:

    Is this my challenge cookie? :)

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  2. Zita said:

    Love this pink cloth!!!

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  3. Rosa said:

    Great cookies! So pretty and delicate looking.

    This year, it seems that everyone had a simple/humble and homely Xmas. Happy New Year!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    [Rispondi]

  4. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said:

    How similar the ingredients here are to those in French macarons but how different the instructions and resulting cookie! I must definitely try to make these.

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  5. Giulia said:

    @ Zita: yes! this is your challenge! I’m so happy we decided to do this game! ;) The link cloth is a scarf, my Grandma made it! Isn’t she great?
    @ Rosa: indeed! I loved this humble and homely feeling!
    @ Sylvie: I noticed this similarity too! I’m not good in making French macarons, though, but I won’t give up! it will be my next challenge!

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  6. Prerna@IndianSimmer said:

    Saw these photos on your flickr page and I HAD to come visit your blog hoping that I would find a recipe for these gorgeous. I really am eating them through my eyes!
    LOVE IT!

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  7. Soma said:

    These look gorgeous.makes me think of a kind of Moroccan cookies made with almond flour and orange blossom water.

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  8. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen said:

    @ Prerna: Thank you for your nice comment! they are soo good you must try them!
    @ Soma: do you have the recipe? I would love to try them, too!

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  9. Soma said:

    Chk. ur mail. just mailed u the recipe.

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  10. briarrose said:

    So much lovely almond flavor. YUm!

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  11. Giulia said:

    @ Soma: got it!
    @ Briarrose: 2 tablespoons oh heaven!

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  12. Karen said:

    I had the wonderful fortune to live in Siena for 6 months in College and fell in love with these treats! I can’t wait to try to make these!

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    Giulia Risposta:

    this is the traditional recipe, you won’t be disappointed! where did you usually buy it? Nannini? forno delle campane? Buti?

    [Rispondi]

  13. Anne said:

    Did you really mean 2 Tablespoons of almond?

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    Giulia Risposta:

    yes, two tablespoons of almond extract! it will give the unique bitter almond flavour!

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  14. Mariella said:

    where can I buy the white wafer – and can you in the States?

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Hi Mariella, I’m sorry but I don’t know where you could buy it in the States. However, it’s no essential to have excellent ricciarelli, so if you cannot find it, no problem, go for them anyway!

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  15. Susan Costello said:

    Giulia,
    Ok so bitter almond oil or bitter almond extract? Is there a difference? I have seen many suppliers here in the U.S. with the former. I have not found the latter.

    Is ok to use regular almond extract?
    Grazie!
    Sue :)

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Regular almond extract would to the same! Happy baking Sue!

    [Rispondi]

  16. The Christmas log and a festive cardoon flan - Juls' Kitchen | Juls' Kitchen said:

    [...] cardoons and cavallucci. In Siena during Christmas time you can also find panforte, panpepato and ricciarelli – soft almond cookies extremely easy to make. The smell of almonds and orange together, even [...]

  17. Vanessa said:

    This recipe sounds divine, I can’t wait to try them! How far ahead can they be made?

    [Rispondi]

    Giulia Risposta:

    Hi Vanessa, you can make them a few days in advance and keep them in an airtight container! Enjoy!

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  18. Brenda said:

    Yesterday we ate some italian cookies and i searched the web to find the recipe for it. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the cookies we ate, but they look very similar to yours. The ingredients could match the taste. Currently they are in the oven. I will let you know how they tasted! Thanks for the recipe :)

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Hi Brenda, I hope you liked the ricciarelli and I hope they were exactly the cookies you were looking for! Merry Christmas! x

    [Rispondi]

  19. My Chocolate Best Wishes - Juls' Kitchen | Juls' Kitchen said:

    [...] from the bottom of my heart and from the bottom of my kitchen, in the midst of ricciarelli, panforte, fish soup and mussels, I just want to wish you the best for this [...]

  20. Prosecco and White Grape Risotto « Dinner in Venice said:

    [...] Jul’s Ricciarelli Cookies from Siena [...]

  21. Ginger said:

    Dear One,
    Your pre-recipe is poetic and makes my heart sing. I’ve been on the search for this recipe, thank you kindly. I can’t wait to try them. I enjoyed one in a little bakery we have here on the waterfront and being a Norwegian girl love my fine cookies, this was oolah lah. Appreciate your efforts in sharing, now if I could say their name beautifully as they are. Warmly, Ginger in the Pacific North West

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Hi Ginger, your comment made me smile, you’re so kind!
    A huge hug from Tuscany

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  22. Jane Lyons said:

    Hi Julia,
    I’ve made the batter for the almond cookies and kept the batter in the fridge overnight and today the batter is very wet. I would have to use much more than the 200g of extra icing sugar to work with the dough. Did I do something wrong? The flavor seems right but the consistency seems wrong. Thank-you

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Hi Jane, use all the sugar you need just to shape the cookies, do not add it into the dough. And when you will bake it, give them at least half an hour before you move them from the baking tray, because they will still be soft and moist inside.
    Just try and let me know!

    [Rispondi]

  23. Camille said:

    Hi Giulia, I just returned from my first trip to Italy where I purchased a box of Sapori Ricciarelli and so wanted to try making Ricciarelli at home in Texas. I found your recipe and made the cookies without the wafer paper. After leaving the batter in the refrigerator overnight it was very wet and there was no way to roll it into a sausage to cut into balls. Should I add more almond flour to improve the consistency? I scooped the batter by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. The cookies tasted fabulous, but are flat and not pretty like yours. Just wondering what I did wrong. I converted the flour and sugar from 200g to 1 cup each — maybe I didn’t use enough? Thanks for your time.

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Hi Camille, first of all thank you for trying out the recipe. I am travelling right now so I cannot check a converter, but please check the quantities on an online converter to verify the amount of flour to be used. Generally speaking, I agree with you, you can try increasing the amount of flour, this could be a beginning! Cheers

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  24. Kevin said:

    Just returned from Italy. The last day was in Siena and ricciarelli was my first google search leading me to your blog. Bella. As soon as I can find all the ingredients locally this is my first pastry to make.

    Ciao
    Kevin

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Ciao Kevin, so happy to receive your comment, I hope you enjoyed Tuscany and Siena! You will be amazed to discover how simple this recipe is, you’ll love it!

    [Rispondi]

  25. Gerald said:

    Giuliani, Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe. My wife and I have traveled throughout Italy and the Riccarelli in Sienna was her favorite! I have tried several recipes, but yours is by far the closest to the ones we had in Sienna. When I saw the smile on her face and a big “thumbs-up”, I knew we found our recipe. My next challenge will be to replicate Sfogliatelli. Thank you again for sharing this wonderful recipe. Also, I spent three months in Rome learning the art of Gelato and Sorbetto making.

    Ciao Giuliani, my Riccarelli will go wonderful with the Gelato…
    Gerald

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  26. Judy said:

    Is the white wafer actually rice paper? I have been trying to determine how to find it.

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    Giulia Risposta:

    Kind of.. we call it ostia, but it is not essential for the perfect result of the ricciarelli!

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  27. Madonna said:

    hi, i just made these cookies and I’m wondering why they were so chewy? Is there supposed to be baking powder in them? They were delicious. :)

    [Rispondi]

    Giulia Risposta:

    They have to be chewy.. wait a few hours before eating them, better the day after!

    [Rispondi]

  28. RICCARELLI wherever you are ! | Just Visit Siena ! said:

    […] http://en.julskitchen.com/dessert/ricciarelli-siena-almond-cookies […]

  29. RICCIARELLI wherever you are ! | Just Visit Siena ! said:

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  30. Norene Cantella said:

    Ahh, my favorite cookies. Can’t wait to try them. Grazie

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  31. Joellen said:

    SOOO excited to try this recipe this week! Am searching for the white wafer paper, just found it in San Antonio and am going tomorrow. I was in Siena again in October for a conference and had these every morning with cappuccino — divino! Grazie mille per il ricevuto, I will post of the results after trying it. Wish me luck!

    [Rispondi]

    Joellen Risposta:

    ay – ricetta, not ricevuto! Still learning Italian…

    [Rispondi]

    Giulia Risposta:

    Good luck Joellen! perfect with a cappucino, you’re right!

    [Rispondi]

  32. Renee Ricciardelli said:

    Hello – I happened to stumble upon this recipe and it looks fantastic. I was wondering how it got its name. I’m particially wondering because my last name is Ricciardelli. Thank you in advance fir your response. Renee

    [Rispondi]

    Giulia Risposta:

    hello Renee, I sincerely don’t know the origin of their name, but yes, it sounds really similar to your surname! :)

    [Rispondi]

  33. Mira said:

    Hi! I am just coming back from a 2 week stay in Italy, and I missed these cookies! Louisa from Il Rigo Agritourismo near San Querico recommended this recipe for Ricciardelli. I made these at home (in the USA) last week attempting the conversion from grams to cups. I ended up needing about 1/3 cup more almond flour to get the consistency correct to roll the dough into a log to cut. Other than my faulty conversion, the cookies tasted wonderful, and just how I remember them from Tuscany. Thank you!

    [Rispondi]

    Giulia Risposta:

    Hello Mira, so happy you tried the recipe and it turned out great! yes, it might take some time to get the perfect balance of the ingredients, especially for the conversions, but once you nail the recipe, you’re done! Thank you for your sweet feedback!

    [Rispondi]

  34. Snow (Neve) | Insidemybag said:

    […] Here you will find the recipe. […]

  35. Ricciarelli light – Fursecuri sanatoase cu migdale | Madeline's Cuisine said:

    […] Batem bine de tot albusurile cu zeama de lamaie. Adaugam apoi restul ingredientelor si amestecam bine pana se obtine un aluat maleabil. Formam bilute pe care le aplatizam usor cu palmele. Le introducem in cuptorul preincalzit la 160 de grade timp de 18 min. Delicioase!Puteti gasi reteta originala de Ricciarelli aici […]

  36. Ricciarelli light – Fursecuri sanatoase cu migdale | Madeline's Cuisine said:

    […] Batem bine de tot albusurile cu zeama de lamaie. Adaugam apoi restul ingredientelor si amestecam bine pana se obtine un aluat maleabil. Formam bilute pe care le aplatizam usor cu palmele. Le introducem in cuptorul preincalzit la 160 de grade timp de 18 min. Delicioase!Puteti gasi reteta originala de Ricciarelli aici […]

  37. Larissa & Nancy’s 24 Hours in NYC said:

    […] The other thing that was in Larissa’s brain was to find some top notch Greek olive oils.  She has found a gold mine from the same distributor as the thyme honey.  It has been a five year search, and we think you will be really pleased when we have a tasting this fall.  Also by just turning the corner at a HUGE booth, where the staff was not particularly helpful,  Larissa found our long lost organic ketchup, plum tomatoes from a small group in Spain.  We could not believe it…sometimes you just have to walk further.   And our final note is that we are bringing in some scrumptilious Italian figs poached in rum syrup, blond panforte and some ricciarelli […]

  38. Madeline said:

    Hi, I don’t know how my posts appeared as comments to this article… However, I adapted this recipe and it turned out amazing, thank you so much for sharing! :)
    http://madeline.ro/ricciarelli-light-fursecuri-sanatoase-cu-migdale/ (scroll down for English)
    Have a lovely day!

    [Rispondi]

  39. kim said:

    Thank you so much for this recipe!
    i was looking everywehre for it and i must try it out this christmas.

    Do you have any other traditional italian sweet recipes for christmas?

    would love to see them

    xx
    kim

    [Rispondi]

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