A cross between a small pastry and an almond cookie, ricciarelli feature a dusting of powdered sugar, with a soft inside that melts in your mouth and a striking aroma of bitter almonds. The origin of ricciarelli di Siena dates back to the fifteenth century: the almond paste – in the form of marzipan or Marzapanetti – was once very popular in the town and Siena was famous even outside its territory for its production. The cookies made with almond paste were reserved for the sumptuous banquet of the Lords because they were made of precious ingredients, mainly almonds and sugar. They were so valuable and refined that marzipan sweets were sold in the apothecaries shops along with drugs and the most exotic spices of the time.
Today, together with panforte, ricciarelli are perhaps one of the most characteristic Sienese desserts. During Christmas time, you can find them in all the pastry shops and bakeries of Siena. Even though this is a traditional recipe, it is also a sweet treat with a modern appeal, as they are naturally gluten free and lactose free, thus making them a Christmas cookie that can meet everyone’s needs.