Thursday, 3 December 2009


As the Christmas season is getting into its full swing, I would like to introduce a special Chrissy treat from Siena, Ricciarelli. It's a melt in your mouth, delicate, rich and soft "marzipan biscuit", for a slight modification you can use the orange zest instead of lemon. Do not try with the juice as it severely interferes with the delicate texture!! Every year we triple or quadruple this recipe and pump them out, it's always a surefire huge hit for the merry season!!

Ricciarelli (Siena, Tuscany)

1 egg white
250g (8,5oz) peeled almonds*
300g (10,5oz) sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
20g (1 tbsp) honey
grated lemon zest from 1/2 of lemon
powdered sugar, as needed

*Almonds need to be peeled in order to obtain the very light colour. You may be able to find ground almonds at a specialty store or large supermarket, to skip the first process.

- In a food processor finely grind the almonds to fine granules (almost powder).
- In a bowl mix sugar and the almonds together.
- Beat eggwhite with vanilla and a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then pour it into the sugar/almond mixture, delicately blend them in with the rest of ingredients.
- Dust a flat working surface with plenty of powdered sugar, then roll out evenly the almond mixture upon to about 1-1,5cm (half inch) thickness.
with a sharp knife also dusted with powdered sugar, slice the dough into small diamond(or oval)shapes (about 6 x 3,5cm, or 2,5 inch x 1,5 inch more or less).

- Lay out a baking paper on the flat baking sheet/pan, place the ricciarelli and bake at 140°C/280°F for about 15 minutes, or take them out of the oven as soon as they take on a golden colour just slightly. This is crucial, watch them carefully as they need to remain very light in the colour and tender inside.
- Let it cool completely without touching. (while warm they are still very very soft, only when they are cool they would attain the right firmness.)

- Cover each ricciarelli generously with powdered sugar.

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