One of our favorite things to get when we go to Italy is a box (or multiple boxes, ndb) of Guido Nannini Ricciarelli. I remember them from when I was little as these funnily-textured almond cookies covered in powdered sugar. Needless to say, at their most basic level, that’s exactly what they are. I’ve grown to appreciate them even more as an adult, especially since I am a fanatic of almonds and almond-flavored anything, and really love the “funny” texture these cookies have. After finishing the box my dad brought home from his last business trip to Siena, my mom and I went on a quest to find a recipe to recreate these cookies so we wouldn’t have to wait for an Italy trip to get them. We seemed to have hit the jackpot.
Two words—”Om Nom”… Ricciarelli!
The first thing I love about these cookies is their texture. They’re slightly crunchy on the outside from the light, harder shell that is created from the baked almonds and sugar. But right above the crunchy exterior is warmed powdered sugar, which takes on this pasty texture after it’s been cooked, and boy is it good! I love how it sticks to your fingers when you eat the cookies, so these cookies are (literally) finger-lickin’ good! The ground almonds and almond meal make the cookies slightly gritty, but nice and chewy in the middle. After you break through the crunchy top, the middle literally comes close to melting in your mouth. Perfection.
The second thing I love is the taste of these cookies. Like I said, I’m becoming somewhat of an almond fiend, and these cookies are the perfect balance of almond flavor and sugary sweetness. Next time we make these, I’d love to add some amaretto to bring out the almond flavor even more. I’m very happy with the taste because I bit into my first cookie and said in my mind, “Yep, just like Nannini’s.” Mission accomplished.
Adapted from Traveler’s Lunch Box’s recipe for Ricciarelli
Yields between 24 to 32 cookies
2 cups almond meal/flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons almond extract
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix together almond flour, ground almonds, granulated sugar, two-thirds of the powdered sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer.
3. Stir/fold egg whites into the almond mixture using a spatula. Batter should be sticky and slightly wet, and look almost crumbly. Stir in the almond extract.
4. Form oval or torpedo shapes for the cookies. I found it was easiest to take a medium sized spoon, scoop some batter into the palm of your hand, and form the cookies initially by pressing the batter down into your palm while its in the scoop of the spoon. Then, use your two palms together to form the cookie completely. Roll the cookies in the remaining powdered sugar. Put cookies onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving some room between each. Leave the cookies at room temperature for about 2-3 hours to dry out a little before baking.
5. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and a little firm on the outside (insides should still be soft). Cool completely and store in an airtight container.