Ricciarelli, Italian Almond Cookies are typical Christmas cookies from Siena, Italy. They’re exquisite little morsels and a joy to make!
As I reflect each year on which cookies to add to my Christmas cookie platter, a balance of different textures and flavours is what I look for. Some have to include a type of nut while some are without.
I would need at least one colourful treat to brighten up the mound of cookies piled up high on my holiday platter. Such as these Italian Rainbow Cookies.
And then we mustn’t forget family members with dietary restrictions such as those who are gluten intolerant! They too need a perfectly satisfying sweet nibble! This is where these Ricciarelli make an appearance!
What I love about these cookies is that you really don’t need any serious baking skills. It’s simply a few very good quality ingredients consisting mostly of finely ground almonds and some powdered sugar.
They’re almond and lemon scented and also wonderfully perfumed with the seeds of a vanilla bean.
A touch of beaten egg whites binds the ingredients together to bring you a deliciously soft and chewy cookie with its distinctive crackled appearance.
You can make this cookie in different stages if you wish.
Day 1…you can blanch your own almonds if your so inclined. This is a process I really enjoy doing and extremely easy to do. You can check out my notes below.
Day 2…you can prepare the cookie dough and refrigerate over night.
Day 3…slice, shape and bake! Its pretty simple right? Told you so!
A Little About Ricciarelli Cookies
Aside from being a Sienese Christmas treat, these cookies are customarily shaped into an oval or diamond form.
Some would say that the oval shape was meant to represent the eyes of the Madonna by Renaissance painters.
However, according to one legend it is said that a noble knight, Ricciardetto Della Gherardesca introduced the diamond shaped form of this cookie. Its oval shape with the pointed tips greatly reminded him of the Sultan’s slippers from his crusades of the far East. Hence the name Ricciarelli!
Whatever shape or form you decide on, I’m sure you’ll agree these cookies reign supreme in elegance and simplicity.
Serve alongside your favourite sweet wine or Vin Santo and enjoy them in the company of your wonderful family members or friends!
Happy Holidays dear friends!
If you make this recipe remember to tag @marisasitaliankitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation!
Ricciarelli Italian Almond Cookies
Ricciareli, Italian Almond Cookies are deliciously soft and chewy cookies with a distinctive crackled surface. A typical Sienese Christmas cookie.
- 2 1/2 cups blanched almonds see notes below for blanching your own
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- lemon zest from half a lemon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- egg whites from 2 large eggs
- powdered sugar for dusting approximately 1 cup
Preparing The Cookie Dough
In a food processor, pulse together the blanched almonds with 3/4 cups of the powdered sugar until fine in texture.
Add in the remaining sugar, lemon zest, almond extract, the vanilla bean seeds and pulse together until very fine. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites with a fork just until foamy.
Add the beaten egg whites to the almond mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time while stirring just until you've achieved a stiff dough.
Dust your hands and a flat work surface with a little powdered sugar and roll out the cookie dough into a log about one inch and a half in diameter.
Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
When Ready To Bake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Slice the cookie dough into 24 equal portions and roll each into a ball.
One at a time, slightly flatten each ball between the palms of your hands while forming into an oval shape.
Place the shaped cookies onto the prepared baking sheets while spacing them 2 inches apart.
Dust generously with powdered sugar.
Bake one sheet at a time in the preheated oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the sides are pale golden in colour.
Take care not to over bake them. They should look dry and not overly dark.
Allow to cool completely before removing from the baking sheet as these cookies are very soft and fragile when removed from the oven.
Enjoy with your favourite sweet wine or Vin Santo.
They keep well for up to a week at room temperature sealed in an air tight container.
Place the almonds in a pot of boiling water and allow to simmer for about 60 to 70 seconds. The almonds will start to rise and bob on the surface. The skin will have a shriveled up appearance.
Drain the almonds and run under cold water then pat dry with a clean dish towel.
One at a time, gently press on the almond between your thumb and index finger to release the nut from its skin.
Allow the blanched almonds to dry at room temperature, on a clean dish towel, before proceeding with the recipe. This can also be done overnight.
If your pressed for time you can dry the almonds in a low heated oven for 5 minutes or so.