Siena’s Christmas Cookies: Ricciarelli

Siena's Christmas Cookies Ricciarelli
Sienese ricciarelli a Tuscan holiday favorite in a photo by Sarah Kearns

Italy’s equivalent of Fanny Farmer, Pellegrino Artusi, gives a recipe for Christmas cookies typical of Siena, in a classic 19th century cookbook still in print and in use today.

Ricciarelli, thought to be of Arab origin, are made with finely ground almonds, egg white and grated orange peel.  The result is a delicate treat of almond paste dusted with powdered sugar, beautiful to look at and always served at the end of a Tuscan holiday meal as a prelude to a cup of espresso coffee.