Recipe: Italian almond biscuits
Nom nom nom. I'm loving this recipe for Crimbo. Get your kids to help you if you have the patience, or try it yourself with a glass of Italian red.
If you’re sick of minced pies and ginger bread before we’ve even got into our festive stride, then may I introduce you to Muddy’s new favourite sweet treat Ricciarelli. Try saying that after a few mulled wines. All you really need to know is that it’s a delicious Sienese almond biscuit that’ll be worth every mouthful. Sugar ban? What sugar ban. The good news though, is that they are gluten free.
The recipe comes courtesy of Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi’s stunning Tuscany cookbook (a lovely Christmas present for a foodie friend). It’s great to add a speedy supper to our cooking repertoire, but with Christmas just around the corner, the kids will adore them (polish that halo, baby), you can give them as gifts, or hoard them and secretly stuff your face with your morning coffee. No judgement here. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.
Ricciarelli – Sienese almond biscuits
Serve with coffee in the morning or dessert wine for dipping after a feast. They also make a great gift in a box tied with ribbon. Depending on the dryness of the ground almonds you might need to adjust the amount of egg whites.
MAKES APPROX. 30 BISCUITS
400 g (14 oz/4 cups) ground almonds
2 teaspoons almond extract
175 g (6 oz/scant 1¾ cups) icing (confectioner’s) sugar for the biscuits, plus 100 g (3½ oz/generous ¾ cup) for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
175–200 g (6–7 oz) egg white (about 4 large egg whites)
1/ Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F/Gas 3) and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
2/ Combine the ground almonds, almond extract, icing sugar and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
3/ Beat the egg whites in a separate clean bowl with a whisk until they form a soft foam then add them to the mixture a little at a time.
4/ Stir with a large wooden spoon to form a thick paste – the mixture should be sticky but not runny. You may have a little egg white left, which you can just discard.
5/ Put the extra icing sugar for dusting in a separate bowl.
6/ Take two dessertspoons and form about 36 quenelles (raised oval shapes) by transferring the mixture between the spoons, then drop them gently into the bowl of icing sugar to coat them.
7/ Remove each quenelle gently with a slotted spoon and place them on the lined baking sheet, spaced apart and still covered in icing sugar.
8/ Bake the biscuits for 20–25 minutes or until lightly golden.
9/ Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack before serving. They can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container.
Fancy learning how to make authentic Italian food, sign up for Caldesi Cookery School. Or simply book up and let the pros show you how it is done. I’ve eaten at Caldesi in Campagna and the food is to die for.