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Ricciarelli - Sienese Christmas Cookies - Ricciarelli Recipe

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Ricciarelli, orange-laced amaretti from Siena

Ricciarelli, orange-laced amaretti from Siena

© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
Ricciarelli are classic orange-laced Sienese almond paste cookies that were once a Christmas delight, but are now enjoyed year-round. They closely resemble soft amaretti. In preparing ricciarelli, you will need to add the ingredients in four distinct steps, labeled in the ingredients list A through D. The recipe makes a healthy number, but don't worry: They'll go quickly.

Prep Time: 9 hours, 35 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 9 hours, 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ** A **
  • 900 g (2 pounds) sugar
  • 1.2 k (2 1/2 pounds) peeled blanched almonds
  • 60 g (2 ounces) candied sweet (as opposed to bitter) orange peel
  • 20 g (a scant ounce) bitter almonds (substitute peach pit nutmeats or omit if you cannot find)
  • ** B **
  • 150 g (1/3 pound) sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) water
  • ** C **
  • 60 g (2 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) flour
  • ** D **
  • 60 g (2 ounces) powdered sugar laced with vanilla
  • 2 egg whites
  • Wafers to put the Ricciarelli on (unflavored edible rice paper will work as a substitute)

Preparation:

Note: an ounce is about 28 grams
Begin by grinding the almonds and the other ingredients of A so as to obtain a smooth uniform paste; this is easier if you have access to a professional quality grinder.

Dissolve the sugar of B in the water and heat over a brisk flame to obtain a thick syrup. When a drop of the syrup pressed between the fingers which are then separated forms threads mix it into the almond cream, together with the powdered sugar and flour of C.

Let this dough rest covered with a damp cloth for 8 hours. Whip the whites to soft peaks with the vanilla-laced sugar (D) and incorporate this mixture into the dough.

Dust your work surface with a mixture of powdered sugar and rice starch (or corn starch) and roll the dough out so it's about a half inch (1 cm) thick. Cut the dough into diamond-shaped cookies an inch across and two long (the Sienese cut the loaf into strips, roll them into snakes and press pieces of the snakes into appropriately shaped molds).

Once the ricciarelli are cut out they should be placed on thin wafers (Sienese use thin wafers much like communion wafers, but unflavored edible rice paper will also work) on a baking sheet, dusted with powdered sugar, and baked for about 15 minutes (or somewhat less) in a 320 (160 C) oven. You don't want them to brown.

Note: People now add a little baking powder to the dough to make it rise slightly. I'd add it when I folded in the sugar and white mix just before rolling out the dough, and begin by adding a teaspoon of baking powder the first time I made the ricciarelli.

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