I hate autumn. No let me rephrase that, I hate the flus, colds, and illnesses that come with autumn. Always around this time of year, particularly November, I seem to get sick. No amount of preventative measures, no hand sanitizer, no flu shot, no washing my hands until they crack and bleed seems to ward off the inevitable. Now, being sick in bed at home isn’t all that bad when you’re a kid. Actually, I’m sure everyone has feigned illness once or twice just to get out of school. However, being sick as an “adult” is another matter. The word “adult” actually means “responsibilities” and no amount of sickness will make those responsibilities disappear or seem less important. Not saying that I have a lot of responsibilities or anything but it sure isn’t as fun being sick now that I’m all grown up, now that I’m all grown up and can’t just call in sick whenever I don’t feel like going to work. Even if I really am sick…cough, cough.
So, what would I rather be doing? I’d rather be lying in bed, drinking tea, watching The Walking Dead, and eating a cookie. No, not an ordinary, chewy chocolate chip cookie or a sandy, buttery wedge of shortbread, or something like that. I want….a ricciarelli. I don’t actually know how to pronounce these little cookies but I do know how to eat them and I do know that they’re delicious. What they are are gem shaped almond cakes, dry on the outside and chewy on the inside, coated in a dusting of confectioners sugar and lightly flavoured with almond extract and orange zest to enhance their bite. They’re wonderful with a cup of tea or sick in bed with the flu.
Adapted slightly from this recipe by Nigella Lawson
Makes about 15 diamond shaped almond cookies
1 large egg white
pinch of salt
Zest of half an orange or one clementine
1 tsp almond extract
150g almond flour
Whisk the egg whites and salt on high speed of a stand mixer or hand held mixer until frothy. Add in the sugar a little at a time until all is incorporated and the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Mix in the zest and almond extract. Fold in the almond flour and mix until well incorporated.
Dust your hands with icing sugar to prevent them from sticking to the dough. Portion the dough into 15 balls while constantly dusting hands with more sugar. Shape the balls into diamonds by pinching the ends and pressing the centres down flat. Space the ricciarelli out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, lightly cover with another piece of parchment and let dry over night or for about 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250˚F and bake the ricciarelli for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before dusting with icing sugar through a fine mesh sieve.