Ricciarelli – Tuscan Almond Cookies


My holiday baking saga continues as I try to bake three varieties of holiday cookies each day. Tomorrow will be my last cookie baking day, but I hope to bake a couple of traditional Italian loaves of bread before the holiday arrives. Along with my yearly regular cookie recipes, I am trying out a few new recipes, and so far some have been great, others not so great. I will share my favorites on the blog though so you can enjoy them too!

Ricciarelli are almond cookies most commonly found in Tuscany, Siena in particular. I first tasted this traditional cookie on my first trip to Siena over thirty years ago, and after one bite I knew that they would always be one of my favorite Italian cookies. Like amaretti cookies, they are almond based, but instead of the crisp amaretti, riccarelli have a crisp outer shell, but a very soft interior that is totally addictive. I have been baking these cookies for years, but I recently realized that my recipe was no longer on the blog. Apparently, after the last redesign, I left the recipe off because the photos were no longer adequate. If you like almond cookies, you have to try making these. The flavor will improve after a day or two, and I usually freeze half the cookies to ensure I have fresh treats to serve throughout the holidays.

The one trick to making these cookies is to find the right texture. The dough will be sticky but shouldn’t be wet. The cookies also need to sit long enough to develop a shell and how long that will take depends on the weather. When I made these in Florida where it is warm and humid, it took hours to develop a shell, but here in the North, after an hour the cookies had a nice firm exterior. The batch I made for the photos were a little more misshapen than usual as you want an oval shape, but I do not mind the rustic appearance, and they taste great no matter what form they are in!

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2018

Ricciarelli - Tuscan Almond Cookies

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 Dozen
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Egg Whites At Room Temperature
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 1/4 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar Plus Extra For Dusting
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until stiff peaks form.
  2. Use a fine sieve to sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into the bowl.
  3. Add the extracts and gently fold the egg whites into the other ingredients until mixed.
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and use your hands to roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  5. Roll each ball into the extra powdered sugar until well coated.
  6. Shape the balls into an oval, and arrange on the prepared baking sheets with room for spreading between.
  7. Let the cookies sit at room temperature for at least an hour, or until the exterior of the cookies have dried out and feels firm to the touch.
  8. While the cookies dry, preheat oven to 300 degrees F., then bake for about 20 minutes.
  9. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.