It’s a good day, when someone opens his bag and pulls out a small box with “Forno Artigianale – Ricciarelli”, home made Italian almond cookies from Montalcino, a beautiful hill town in Tuscany. What a lovely gesture to bring such a souvenir from travels! Somehow, this moment felt like ‘good old times’ when we, as kids, used to get goodies from adults – imported from distant and exotic countries with their distinct and unknown taste.
This time, I was sure these almond cookies covered in finest powder sugar would be rather sweet but I certainly could not tell that they would turn my life sort of upside down with the very first bite…
Ricciarellis are not hard like cantuccinis, rather they have a crust on the outside turning soft towards the inside. So, when you break a ricciarelli you can see the lovely yellowish creamy color and the moist almond dough. You can taste the sweetness and nuttiness before it even reaches your mouth. And then, the first bite, like in slow motion – pure silence fills the room and the only thing you perceive is something like the softest wing beat of a butterfly. What a precious moment!
And what a fabulous dessert! So, try to serve home made ricciarellis with an espresso after dinner and try to hear your friends’ thoughts…
For approx. 40 cookies:
- 350 gr almonds with skin
- 350-450 gr sugar – mix of fine sugar and powder sugar
- 2 egg white
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 drops bitter almond aroma
- 1 vanilla stick – mark from the vanilla stick
1// Place the almonds in a bowl, brew them with boiling water so that they are covered and let them rest for about 10 minutes so you can easily peal off the skin.
2// Process the almonds in a food processor, then stir the freshly grounded fine almond mass, sugar, lemon zest, aroma and vanilla to combine by hand.
3// Beat the egg whites until they become stiff and mix together with the almond-sugar paste until a marzipan-like texture evolves.
4// Form the dough into a 3 cm thick roll and cut into 1-2 cm pieces or bigger if you like. Place the almond dough in rows (10×4) on a baking tray (with baking paper) and press the dough with a fork to form the cookies. Let rest overnight in a cool and dry place.
5// The next day, bake the almond cookies at 75°C for 15-20 minutes and sprinkle with extra powder sugar.
If you do not like the cookies to become too sweet, just reduce the amount of sugar. You can keep ricciarellis fresh in a closed box for up to three weeks.