The Ricciarelli is a traditional Tuscan cookie that is naturally gluten-free and combines orange with almond flavours. At Christmas time, you will find Ricciarelli in every bakery in Siena! But luckily this sweet treat is available all year round!
Like macarons, ricciarelli are made with ground almonds, whisked egg-whites and sugar, but lack the airy delicacy of the macron.
This cookie has an Arabic influence and dates back to the Crusades, when almonds were introduced to Italy by soldiers returning home. In the spirit of adjusting to local taste and flavours, there is a chocolate version of the Ricciarelli made with cocoa powder!
PANFORTE DI SIENA
Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert that resembles fruitcake that contains fruits and nuts. Panforte meaning "strong bread" refers to the spicy flavour — peppercorns, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. The original name of panforte was "Panpepato" (peppered bread) due to the strong pepper used in the cake.
Making panforte is fairly simple: Sugar is dissolved in honey and various nuts, fruits and spices are mixed together with flour. The entire mixture is baked in a shallow pan then the finished cake is dusted with icing sugar.
Panforte is usually a small wedge that is served with coffee or a dessert wine after a meal, though some enjoy it with their coffee at breakfast. Today in Siena you can find many panforte recipes, the sweet is sold within beautiful and coloured boxes. There are many different variants, from the traditional one to the chocolate panforte!