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Sienna-Style Almond Cookies

Ricciarelli di Siena


Ricciarelli (Curls) are light-as-a-cloud almond meringue cookies that are also synonymous with Sienna. In this adaptation, I use powdered egg whites instead of fresh. This makes it unnecessary to waste egg yolks in recipes calling only for whites. Powdered whites are found in the baking section of your grocery store. Edible rice paper, which is part of the traditional method of making this cookie, is available at cake supply stores, but the cookies can be made without them.


2 1/2 cups slivered almonds

8 teaspoons powdered egg white

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups granulated sugar

Grated zest of one large orange

Rice paper (optional)


Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Grind the almonds in a food processor until reduced to a semi-fine powder. Leave some texture to the almonds. You should have about 2 2/3 cups.

Whisk the powdered egg white with the water in a small bowl. When completely blended, transfer the mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Beat the egg white mixture on high speed while adding the sugar a little at a time. Beat until the whites thicken, are shiny, and will not fall off a spoon when scooped from the bowl.

With a rubber spatula fold in the nuts and orange zest.

Fill a large tipless pastry bag with some of the mixture and pipe 3-inch ovals or diamond shapes onto the parchment paper, spacing them 1-inch apart. Or use two spoons to scoop the mixture onto the parchment paper.

To bake the meringues using rice paper, lay the sheets over the parchment paper. You may have to use several sheets to make a single layer, depending on how wide and long the rice paper is. Then pipe and space the mixture over the rice paper leaving about 1-inch between each one.

Dust the tops of the formed cookies with confectioner's sugar.

Bake about 20 minutes or until the ricciarelli are glossy looking, firm to the touch, but pale looking, not brown. They should have soft interiors.

Do not attempt to remove them immediately from the bake sheets. They will break; allow them to cool about 15 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

If the ricciarelli were baked with rice paper, use a scissors to evenly trim the edges of the rice paper even with the cookie.

When completely cool, re-dust the tops with confectioner's sugar.

Note: 2 teaspoons of powdered egg white is equal to 1 fresh egg white.


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