The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Monday, 18 February 2013

I ricciarelli di Siena - outside of Christmas

I could blame my absence from this blog on my little 7 months old son and the time he needs from me...but in reality it is simply because I started doing other things which distracted me...and perhaps it has also been because I lost a bit of enthusiasm about this come on, do leave a comment, it'll give me a push!

So I am back. After two months of absence. After all it is not that long if you think about it. But it is an eternity compared to my food blogger friends who seem able to cook, photograph, and write about their dishes almost every day.

This post was planned a while ago, in fact in conjunction with Christmas and that of course slipped. But to be honest, ricciarelli from Siena are wonderful almost any time of the year. So much so that even the Ministry of Agriculture appealed to have them protected as a year-long treat. And it obtained what it wanted! The recipe of these slim diamond shape biscuits has recently been declared PGI, "product of geographical indication", as only in Siena they can be made under the original recipe. This should not put you off from reproducing them at home - between you and I they taste pretty similar! But don't tell the PGI people...


I like to bite into their powdery sweet and crusty surface thinking that a noble knight, Ricciardetto della Gherardesca, came back from the Crusades and, I guess quite pleased to be still alive and all in one piece, celebrated his return by creating something that could recall the Middle-East. Their main ingredient is almond, which is greatly used in all middle-eastern cuisine, and their pointed shape was to recall the Turkish slippers.


I always love eating something that is good and even has so much history behind it...I do hope you will try them next time you are in Siena. In the meantime, you can try this recipe. Sadly there is a missing ingredient - bitter almonds - which I cannot find here in Cambridge. What I do though is to use a few drops of almond essence which is quite bitter.

20 ricciarelli

200g ground almonds
2 egg whites
1/2 lemon zest
175g icing sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
extra icing sugar for coating

Pre-heat the oven at C170.

Beat the egg whites until very firm. Mix the ground almonds with the sugar and baking powder. Grate the zest and add it to the almond flour.

Gently incorporate the dry ingredients to the beaten egg whites until well combined. You will have a reasonably wet mixture and don't be tempted by adding more ground almonds. It is a bit of a sticky affair but actually the good of it is that you can lick your fingers from time to time to help...

Make walnut size balls and flat them on your palm. Give them a rough shape of diamonds and by doing that cover them in icing sugar and coat them well. Place them on a trey covered with baking paper.

Cook them for 10 minutes. Once cooked take them out of the oven and leave them to cool. Store in a dry and cool box for up to a week. But to be honest they won't last more than a day! And they go down very well either with a glass of sweet wine, vinsanto, or even Ruby port (as in the background).



  1. This is a real treat, I love Ricciarelli.

    1. Thank you Silvano! I like the history behind these little jewels and I hope you will try to make them at home - or of course you might taste them at the Secret Suppers...;D

    2. I have just tasted some home-baked ricciarelli with a cup of moka coffee. That is an indulgent treat for your palate and surprising balance between sweetness and softness :-)!

  2. Claire Dartington19 February 2013 at 11:20

    These look lovely. I will try to make them at home.

    1. Great! And let me know if you like them! :D

  3. Welcome back! Glad to hear from you - and that your little bambino is not keeping you out of the kitchen! Mind you, if you do want to blog about purees and baby rice, that would be fine by me. You'd probably make them deliciously!
    The story about the ricciarelli seems a bit similar to the story about croissants! Hmm - is it just that all yummy pastries originate with the crusaders? Or do they just sound more exotic that way?
    In any case, they look great - and we look forward to more blogs again!

    1. Thank you for your kind words and for sue I will spare you from baby food although so far Edmund's diet has definitely been very Italian!

      True about the Crusades...funny, isn't it?

  4. Lovely Francesca! I should make these while stressing about my senior thesis!! It's so good to read about your adventures :)

  5. Fran, two batches baked this morning, half of the first batch has gone already. Not quite as good as yours, but not bad for a novice like me. R