Bringing the Cuisine of Regional Italy to America

Ricciarelli - Tuscan Zesty Almond Macaroons

Posted: December 20, 2011 -- John Blount

Siena, Tuscany


Siena! in the heart of Tuscany. We love everything about it: from the rolling hills all around, the cypresses, its history and festivals like Il Palio, excellence in good living and great food starting with the olive oils, the meats and cold cuts, artichokes, truffles and spreads, pici pasta, and on and on.. to the dessert like panforte and RICCIARELLI!  This scrumptuously rich pastry is from an old recipe dating back to the 14th Century in Siena. They are made in preparation for Christmas and other religious festivals... perhaps on account of their egg shape that may refer back to some ancient fertility ritual during Easter or something!  They should be served with a sweet wine, or better yet marry them with a Moscadello di Montalcino.


Find the recipe to make Ricciarelli below. As Nicoletta of Cime di Rapa tells us, Ricciarelli are very easy to make, and they have the added advantage over other pastry or cookies that they are actually gluten-free AND delicious at the same time.

See the egg shaped Ricciarelli next to almond Cantucci, another Tuscan specialty that is world renown, both made by Nicoletta Tavella in her cooking school located in Amsterdam.






Ricciarelli and Cantuccini

We'll pass the word to Nicoletta and her recipe to make Ricciarelli. One word of warning, though. Like all simple foods, if the ingredients aren't good you may as well not do it. In typical Italian Harvest style, we strongly believe Italy has some of the best basic ingredients in the world. In the case of Ricciarelli, the almond paste, or marzipan, is key and if it's not the best, your Ricciarelli might not taste like much. Our suggestion: Stramondo Marzipan imported by Purely Organic.

Since I adore Tuscany I recently added these little Tuscan Christmas sweets typical from Siena to the Tuscan menu at my cooking school in Amsterdam. They’re called ricciarelli and you can actually eat them all year round.
Very easy to make, the ricciarelli from Siena are a guarantee of wonderful sweetness obtained with little effort.
In the photo above, next to the Italian text, you can see them accompanied by their “cousins”, the cantuccini cookies from another Tuscan city, Prato (for the recipe go here).

You can make them in advance, they’ll keep perfectly well for a few weeks if you put them in a tin box of a glass jar. They’ll get a little bit dry but will stay buonissimi.


Makes 16-18 ricciarelli


8-9 oz almond paste (or finely ground almonds)
3  1/2 oz sugar
3  1/2 oz icing sugar
3 egg whites (medium-big eggs)
1 bag vanilla sugar
grated zest of 1 organic orange

Pre-heat the oven at 160° C.

Shortly mix the ground almonds in the mixer with half of the quantity of sugar until slightly powdery.

Transfer the mixture in a bowl and mix with the rest of the normal sugar, HALF of the icing sugar, the grated orange zest and the vanilla sugar.

Beat the egg whites until very stiff and carefully mix them with the rest of the ingredients.

Make cookies from this mixtures giving them an oval or diamond-like shape and roll them in the rest of the icing sugar.

Lay them on an oven dish covered with baking parchment and bake them for about 10-12 minutes until slightly golden.

Nicoletta's finished Ricciarelli


Another thing you could do is get the Ricciarelli made in Siena and imported right here to the United States. Le Dolcezze di Nanni is a wonderful family operated bakery located just outside of Siena and sells to several bakeries within the walls of the city. Find them here:


Submitted by Nicoletta on

Hi there! Should you use almond paste, go easy on the sugar and use half the quantity since marzipan is usually already very rich in sugar. Ciao!

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