This is a typical Tuscan Christmas delight from the town of Siena, but found everywhere in Italy at this time of the year – probably coming a close second to panettone as the traditional treat of the season. But in the cartoon kitchen, having been prepared well in advance, they would not have made it past the solstice at Fidget’s rate of consumption. No doubt there will be words…
Ricciarelli senesi / Happy Christmas everyone!
It’s only fair to say that these are a bit of a faff to make – you need to start the day before you want to bake them – but, boy, they’re worth it!
So the preparation is in two parts. First you will need: 450g granulated sugar, 500g almond, 100g orange peel (chopped in the food processor), 50g flour (grade 00 preferred). Separately you will also need 75g sugar and 25g water to make a syrup.
In a large glass bowl mix the sugar, almonds, flour and orange peel. In a small pan make the syrup: mix the sugar and water and let it simmer until it thickens (don’t mix and don’t let it turn into caramel, either), then set aside to cool slightly. Mix it into the almond/sugar mix.
You are also going to need 30g icing sugar and a further 30g flour to add to the mix.
Mix everything (don’t worry if it breaks up, we want a crumbly texture) and let it rest for 12 hours overnight in the glass bowl covered with a damp cloth. Do everything up to this stage the day before you want to bake.
Part two: The following day, when you are ready to bake the ricciarelli, beat two egg whites until stiff, adding 30g of icing sugar a little at a time. Incorporate into the mix you prepared the day before, mix with your hands until the pastry softens and comes together. Divide into two or three batches for ease of working. Roll the first batch into a ‘sausage’ 4–5cm diameter, press to create an oval cross-section then cut into 1cm thick slices. Shape them into the distinctive oval shape then line them up on baking paper keeping 1–2cm apart. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Continue until you have used all of the pastry and allow to rest for an hour. Nearly there now…
Depending on the size of your tray/oven you may need to bake them in batches; line the ricciarelli up leaving 1–2cm between each one, press lightly to flatten and bake in the oven at 160°/gas 3 for 15–20min until they take a very slight colour but remain soft. Let cool and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.
Magic! What could be more Christmassy than a combination of almond and orange peel? No wonder Fidget is downing ricciarelli like there is no tomorrow – they don’t even touch the sides. And still a few more days to Christmas. A quick word in your shell-like, Fidget…