Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Ricciarelli with a pistachio version - and my orange Christmas tree

Ricciarelli are delicious Italian (Tuscan) almond sweets, apparently originated in the XIV century.
Making them in New Zealand is quite special, as they really give Xmas an Italian flair. Bitter almonds are one of the ingredients though, and I have not found them here, so I add just a few apricot kernels (be careful, they are poisonous so you just need a tiny amount, and they MUST be blanched). Of course this is optional, you will get great results just with regular almonds. PLUS, this year I also made up a pistachio version - not ’traditional’ really, but they taste so good that I had to share the recipe (for both!)

200 gr of almonds
about 6 to 10 apricot kernels (optional)
200 gr of sugar
2 egg whites
zest of an orange or a tbsp of candied mix citrus peels
About 50g of ground almond for the traditional type, and 50 g of ground pistachio for the pistacchio version.
plenty of icing sugar to roll and dust

Blanch the almond and the apricot kernels separately in hot water and remove the skin.
Place them in the food processor with the sugar and grind to a powder. Do this in two lots, on pulse, making sure that the mixture doesn't heat or becomes a paste.

Lightly whip the egg whites, just gently, they don't have to be stiff like for a meringue, just starting to be white. Add the ground almonds and the orange zest or candid citrus peels. Mix well, divide into two and add the ground almond to one lot and the ground pistachio to the other, If it feels too soft add a little ground nuts. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The day after flour a board or working surface with icing sugar and roll the paste into thin rolls, about 2-3 cm thick. Cut and shape into biscuits, about 1.5-2 cm high. the traditional shape is like a grain of wheat, with two pointed ends.

Place on a oven tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle with more icing sugar. Bake at 150C for 15 minutes or until the edges start to be golden. Ricciarelli should not be overcooked! Let them cool down completely before removing them from the baking tray.

2023 Christmas tree was orange themed, in fact it was orange, sugar and spice (with sried orange slices, sugar and cinnamon decorations). 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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