December 21, 2021

Ricciarelli

 

One of my close friends is gluten-intolerant and when the holidays roll around I'm always on the hunt for  flour-less cookie recipes that she can enjoy.  Given that the majority of the baking I do involves wheat flour this can be quite a challenge.  In the past I've just substituted gluten-free flour, in place of all-purpose, in a "normal" recipe.  Unfortunately that trick doesn't always yield stellar results because of the chemistry involved in baking.  My preference is to make cookies that are naturally gluten-free so you don't even miss flour. 

Normally I would go with macarons but I had no desire to make them because it would have been an arduous and multi-stepped process.  I wanted something quick that still tasted great.  Enter Ricciarelli, the Italian almond cookie that originated in Siena.  They're similar to amaretti cookies, except softer and chewier.  I'd never heard of ricciarelli before until I saw them on Thida Bevington's Instagram stories. She used this recipe from Italian chef Silvia Colloca and they looked so intriguing I had to make them for myself.

 
I dare you to find a cookie that's easier to make than ricciarelli.  Almond flour, sugar, lemon zest and egg whites are mixed together by hand into a stiff dough.  Then tablespoonfuls of the dough are shaped, dusted in powdered sugar and finally baked.  How simple is that?  I shaped half the cookies into the traditional rectangle and the other half into thumbprints filled with raspberry jam.  I couldn't believe how similar the baked ricciarelli smelled to macarons.  One taste of the cookie and they could easily give their French cousin a run for their money.  Anyone, gluten-intolerant or otherwise, will love these cookies.

Ricciarelli

Makes about 32 cookies.

300g almond flour
250g sugar
2 large egg whites
zest of 1 lemon
powdered sugar (for dusting)
 
raspberry jam (for thumbprint version)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and lemon zest and mix through to create a past. Take a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Dust in the powdered sugar to coat well, then form the dough into a rectangle shape and place onto the lined tray, leaving room for spreading.  (For thumbprints, use your index finger to make a small indent in the center of each ball.  Fill with raspberry jam.)
 
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are lightly brown, look slightly marked and the bottom is firm.

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