I am really enjoying the desserts from A16 Food+Wine. These little Sienese cookies are simple, flourless, and rich with almond flavor. Nibbling on a few with an afternoon coffee is a treat - the sweetness of the almond paste and the sprinkling of powdered sugar is satisfying without sugar overload. In Italy, Ricciarelli are often served as an accompaniment to Vin Santo or other dessert wines. Yum.
I had to go on a hunt for good almond paste that didn't have wheat as a filler. I finally ended up spending 20 bucks to get enough for this recipe, and it wasn't even organic! Next time I am going to make my own almond paste. The only ingredients are sugar and almond - how hard can that be? If any of you have made your own almond paste, I'd love to hear your tips.
Adapted from A16 Food+Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
- 12 ounces almond paste
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Grind almonds in a food processor or blender.
Put almond paste in your stand-up mixer. On low speed, slowly break up the paste. Add the ground almonds, mix on medium for 3 minutes until ingredients are integrated. Add egg white, continue mixing for another 2 minutes to make a stiff dough. Finally add vanilla, baking powder and salt. Blend until ingredients are mixed.
Divide dough into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface. You want each roll to be about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour to firm up dough.
Preheat oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Appleman and Lindgren recommend slicing the dough into 1/2 inch rounds, but I prefer inch-thick slices (insuring a nice dense center for each cookie). On upper rack of oven, bake for 6-8 minutes, then rotate pan and cook another 6-8 minutes. (When I baked a batch of cookies on the middle rack of the oven, the bottoms browned too quickly. When I bake them in the upper part of the oven, the tops and bottoms of the cookies brown at the same rate.) Cookies should be golden when done. Transfer to a cooling rack. Sprinkle the little cuties with powdered sugar when cooled and ready to serve.
You can keep an roll or two of dough in the refrigerator for several days, or even in the freezer for longer, and then you can make fresh cookies whenever you want.