Ricciarelli are traditional Italian cookies made at Christmas time. These delicious soft, chewy cookies are made with almond flour, so they are perfect for a gluten free diet.
Ricciarelli are soft almond based cookies dating back to 14th century Siena. In Tuscany, they were traditionally made around Christmas time and served with Vin Santo, but now they are enjoyed throughout Italy, all year round. In Tuscany they are still a popular gift when visiting friends and family.
Ricciarelli are both gluten free and butter free. They have a slightly crispy meringue-like exterior with a melt in the mouth centre, making them soft and chewy.
The cookies are made from a marzipan paste, which is flavoured with bitter almond, vanilla and citrus. Then each ricciarello is shaped like ‘a grain of rice’, and dusted with powdered sugar before baking.
The traditional way to make ricciarelli, is to prepare the dough and shape it into rolls (like sausages), then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for 24 hours. However, if you are in a hurry, they can be baked straight away.
Here are some tips for delicious ricciarelli:
- Rub the sugar into the lemon or orange zest to release the aromatic oils. This gives a lovely citrus flavour to the sugar.
- Gently fold the whisked egg whites together with the other ingredients to form a soft moist dough.
- For best results: Wrap the dough in cling film and leave overnight in the fridge (or min 4 hours).
- Take small portions of dough and form into flattened ovals shapes.
- Dust liberally with powdered sugar.
- Leave on the counter for 30 minutes to dry before baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes, till cracks become visible or the cookies turn a light golden colour.
- Once out of the oven, the cookies will still be soft but harden on cooling.
- Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days. The day after they taste even better!
The ricciarelli will crack slightly in the oven, but once cooled, will hold their shape. They remain white/light golden with a rough cracked surface. .
These wonderful cookies are quite simple to make.
- 2 egg whites (room temperature)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- grated zest of an orange or lemon
- 1 cup powdered/icing sugar, sifted
- extra powdered/icing sugar for dusting
- 200 g almond flour
- 2 tablespoons bitter almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 320℉/160℃
- In a mixing bowl, rub the zest into the sugar to release the fragrant oils into the sugar. Mix in the almond flour and icing sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till soft peaks are formed. Slowly stir mix in the vanilla and almond extracts. Gently fold this into the almond flour mixture and combine to form a moist dough.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Break off small amounts of dough and form into flattened oval shapes. Dust liberally with icing sugar and leave on the counter for approximately 30 minutes to dry slightly.
- Bake for 15 minutes, till small cracks form on the surface. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (They should still be soft but will harden on cooling). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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