Raise your hands if you know Giulia and her wonderful food blog Juls’ Kitchen. If you don’t, hurry up and check it out, after reading this post. I don’t remember how I found her amazing site – stuffed full of stunning photos, traditional Italian recipes and well written content in English and in Italian too – but I love it so much! She makes so much effort to translate all her posts into English. She is a friendly and chatty person, a great cook and a talented baker. We don’t live very far from each other – Giulia in Italy, myself in Hungary – so I’m sure we will definitely meet one day… Sooner than later.
Thanks to the social networking tool, Twitter, we started chatting and getting to know each other, following each other’s lives. To make the long story short, Giulia emailed me last December if I was interested in writing a cross cultural exchange recipe post. She already knew which Hungarian cake she would like to bake, but I wasn’t sure about my Italian challenge. I didn’t have a clue what I should say… “Giulia, don’t be hard on me! I like easy recipes! Surprise me! :)” She chose Dobos Torte because she ate tons of it when she visited Budapest. Juls is a big fan of this 127 year-old cake. I translated the recipe for her and I also emailed a video (subtitled in English) to make her baking easier (thanks to a fellow Hungarian food blogger, Kriszti, who made a video of how to make the Dobos Torte).I got the recipe of Ricciarelli, the almond cookies from Siena. “The origin of Ricciarelli di Siena dates back to the 15th 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.” (Info adapted from Juls’ blog.)
Giulia says this recipe comes from the grocery shop Rosi in Poggibonsi (SI), slightly revised. She loves to enter this shop especially during holidays because it is full of smells of chocolate, spices and happy-faced children.
I did a few changes in the recipe. I added less icing sugar (I don’t like cakes/cookies very sweet) and reduced the amount of bitter almond extract. The cookies turned out to be amazing, a bit crunchy on the outside and soft, moisture in the inside. After a couple of days they are even better. Everyone in my family loved it. Grazie Giulia, it was a great experience!
Ingredients (makes about 20)
- 2 egg whites
- 1 drop lemon juice
- 120 g icing (powdered) sugar
- 200 g ground almond flour
- 2 teaspoons bitter almond extract
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
- 1 orange’s zest
- 100 g extra icing sugar
The night before: whisk the egg whites with the lemon juice to stiff peaks. Add the almond flour, 120 g of icing sugar, the almond extract, the orange zest and the vanilla seeds. Mix everything together then cover the soft dough with cling-film and set aside in the fridge for overnight.
The day after: place the extra icing sugar on a working surface. Roll the dough into a log (diameter 2,5-3 cm) and cut 1 cm thick slices. Shape each slice with your hands and coat the shaped cookies with extra icing sugar. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven on 160C (320F) for about 18 minutes. When you remove from the oven, they will still be soft and moist but don’t worry they will reach the ideal texture once cooled down. If some remain, store them in an airtight box.