Ricciarelli cookies are sweets similar to more familiar cookies like macaroons or amaretti, except the dough for ricciarelli cookies is generally rested for one to two days before it is baked into cookies. These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They are made from a dough of almond meal and sugar that is flavored with almond extract and lemon zest. Other ingredients in ricciarelli include egg whites, baking powder, and powdered sugar.
This cookie is somewhat complicated to make. Ricciarelli are made by first creating a whipped meringue out of egg whites and sugar, then folding sugared almond meal, orange juice, and lemon zest into the meringue. Some ricciarelli recipes call for pastry flour to be mixed in with the almond meal and other dry ingredients to thicken the cookie and some omit the orange juice. When preparing these cookies, it is important to fold and not stir the dry ingredients into the egg white meringue to form a sticky dough.
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The dough is then doled out on a cookie sheet in oval shapes roughly the size of a small chicken egg. Ricciarelli cookie dough blobs should be placed about a finger's length away from each other. Though these cookies are often given their uniform oval shape by carefully piping them out of a pastry bag, they can be made at home using the teaspoon-drop method to shape the cookies.
After the dough is on the cookie sheet, the cookies need to rest for an hour to dry before going into the oven. They are baked until they are firm, but they are not meant to be browned. Before serving, they are dusted with powdered sugar. Extra ricciarelli cookies can be stored in the freezer after baking. Variations on the usual recipe for these cookies can include adding chocolate or liquor, such as rum or amaretto.
One of the main ingredients that makes this type of cookie unique, almond meal can also be called almond flour. This ingredient is available at most grocery stores, but it can also be made by blanching and peeling almonds, then grinding them in a coffee grinder. The grinder needs to be impeccably clean and free of coffee or other odors. Blanching nuts is a technique that involves quickly boiling them for a short period of time, then throwing them into cold water to stop the nuts from cooking. This makes the thin peel on the outside of the almond easy to remove.