The exquisite ricciarelli, originating in Siena, taste of the Near East and relate to the Middle Ages. According to an ancient legend, in fact, a noble knight, Ricciardetto della Gherardesca, first introduced these delicious macaroons to the Tuscan courts, when he returned from the Crusades. Appreciated all over Italy, ricciarelli have the shape of a rice grain. Their surface is coated with icing sugar and it is cracked, like clay burnt by the sun. Soft and very tasty, they are a typical treat of the Christmas season. Taste them!
200 g (7 oz) of almond flour
400 g (14 oz) of icing sugar
2 egg whites
the juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of bitter almond aroma
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 grated orange zest
2 large wafer sheets (A4-sized)
On the previous night, whip up the egg whites with a dash of lemon juice until stiff, add the almond flour and half of the sugar, stirring and mixing gently. Incorporate the bitter almond aroma, the vanilla seeds and a grated orange zest. Put the dough into a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth and let it stand overnight in the refrigerator. On the following day, sprinkle your kitchen worktop with icing sugar and shape the dough with your hands into a roll of about 5 cm (2 in) in diameter. Cut it to 1-cm (0,40 in) thick disks. Give each disk the typical diamond shape of a ricciarello. Cut an equal number of 7x4 cm (3x1.5 in) diamonds out of the wafer sheets and put a ricciarello on each of them, covering it with a generous layer of icing sugar. Place your ricciarelli onto a baking tray, after lining it with baking paper. Place them at a distance from one another. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F), in conventional mode, and bake your ricciarelli for about 18 minutes. You will understand when the ideal cooking point has been reached by the cracks that will have formed on the surface of each ricciarello. Remove them from the oven, let them cool and cover them with icing sugar. Once cooled, they will reach the ideal consistency!
Store them in a tightly closed tin box...on the following day they will be even tastier and more fragrant!