Desserts, Parve

Ricciarelli: Sienese Almond Macaroons

Ricciarelli biscuits cooling on a rack. Italian almond macaroons

So this is kind of silly, but I had a lot of flaked coconut on hand, purchased during a sale, and was looking for something new to do with them, when I stumbled on these Italian almond macaroons from the Siena region, with a deliciously Italian name. “Forget the coconut,” I thought. “This is what I want to make.”

Make them, I did. The entire family, bar none, crowed over them and insisted I make a larger batch the next time. This recipe is for double the original amount. Multiply it any further and the cookies lose some of their charm. Luckily, ricciarelli are not very difficult to make.

Use the accumulated yolks in your usual challah recipe, in place of the whole eggs, by measure. There are 4 whole eggs to a cup, so if your challah recipe calls for 4 eggs, use enough yolks to make up one cup, adding whole eggs if necessary to make up the difference.

Ricciarelli: Sienese Almond Macaroons

Yield: 40 cookies


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 ½ cups almond flour
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (from about half an orange)
  • 2 tablespoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar for coating cookies


  1. Whip egg whites and lemon juice together with mixer until stiff peaks form.
  2. Using a flour sifter, sift in almond flour, 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, salt, and baking powder and fold into the egg whites in 3-4 batches. Do this as delicately as possible, though the result will be a sticky dough, rather than anything resembling meringue.
  3. Add the orange zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract and fold until just combined.
  4. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1″ balls, then roll in powdered sugar until well coated. Shape into ovals, place on baking sheets leaving room for the cookies to spread, and flatten slightly.
  5. Leave unbaked cookies at room temperature for an hour or so until the tops have dried out and formed a shell. If the weather is humid, it may take longer.
  6. Preheat oven to 300° Give the cookies a gentle squeeze, lengthwise, to give them a head start on developing the beautiful white/gold cracks characteristic of this Italian biscuit. Bake cookies for 20 minutes.
  7. Cool and store cookies in an airtight container. Can be frozen.