1. Food

Christmas Baking: Panforte and Ricciarelli

By December 16, 2011

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PanforteItaly has an extraordinary range of Christmas treats, from Pandoro to Panettone to Struffoli to Pettole...

If you visit Siena you will find Panforte, a delightful concoction made with candied fruit, nuts, honey, spice, and more, and Ricciarelli, which are chewy macaroons laced with bitter almonds.

Both are delightful, and last week I visited Judy Francini, who was a pastry chef before she moved to Italy (where she now teaches cookery, gives market tours, and more), and we chatted while she baked and I took pictures (and wished I could do more, but honey, almond paste, and cameras should not mix).

We started with a dried fig and walnut panforte, which isn't strictly traditional, but is made with ingredients that are much easier to find than some of the candied fruit used in Siena. And very good. I've posted an illustrated version showing the steps involved, and you'll also find the recipe in a single page.

RicciarelliWe then made ricciarelli, and I have again posted the illustrated version showing the steps involved and the recipe in a single page.

To give you an idea of the time required, we started at about 10:30, after shopping for lunch, and by 12:30 the ricciarelli were out of the oven, the meat (ground beef patties wrapped with pancetta prepared by the Signora at the Macelleria Marzini) was in the pan, and the radicchio was on the griddle. It was a very productive (and tasty) morning!

The Holiday Cookie Exchange

Local Foods

Bizcochitos, traditional cinnamon anise sugar cookies from New Mexico. See all of her Christmas Cookie Recipes for more ideas to help fill out your cookie plate this year.

Low Fat Cooking
Fiona Haynes, our Guide to Low Fat Cooking, lightens the fat and calorie load of some traditional favorites with her Top 8 Holiday cookies, which include irresistible sugar cookies and cute little gingerbread men.

South American Food
The South American caramel sandwich cookies, called alfajores, are the perfect holiday homemade gift - they are fun to decorate and delicious. Marian Blazes, guide to South American food, also suggests gingerbread llamas and coconut rollout cookies.

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