Ricciarelli (Sienese Almond Cookies)
hese delicate Christmas cookies are said to be shaped like the almond eyes of madonnas by Renaissance painters. Like all Italian almond sweets, they were called "marzipan" for centuries. They are a popular dessert treat in Italian homes.

Here's the recipe!

2 cups blanched ground almonds
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar
3 drops almond extract
Extra powdered sugar for rolling in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepared almond "flour" or "meal" is available online from Bob's Red Mill and Whole Food Market. If you grind your own almonds, I recommend a Swiss nut grinder, and there is one by Zylos that's fabulous.

Combine the almond "flour" with the baking powder, powdered sugar, and flour. Beat the egg whites until stiff and mix into the almond mixture. Add the almond extract and blend until you have a soft paste.

Place some powdered sugar on a clean, dry surface. Form one tablespoon of dough into a small ball, roll in the sugar, and then form the traditional diamond shape, flattening the cookie with the palm of your hand.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.

Ricciarelli are fabulous with tiny cubes of candied orange peel rolled into them and then dipped in chocolate.

Makes about 16 cookies.

Read more about Ricciarelli and cookies on the Divina Cucina blog.


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