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Ricciarelli from Siena-2.jpg
Ricciarelli from Siena
Place of originItaly
Region or stateSiena, Tuscany
Main ingredientsAlmonds, sugar, honey, egg whites

Ricciarelli are traditional Italian biscuits – specifically, a type of macaroon – originating in 14th century Siena. It is considered one of the signature sweets of Siena, in addition to panforte, cenci,[1]: 167  and cavallucci.


Legend holds that they were introduced by Ricciardetto della Gherardesca in his castle near Volterra upon his return from the Crusades.[1]: 169  He purportedly said that the "foreign biscuits curled like the Sultan's slippers".[1]: 169  The modern biscuit does not exhibit curling.[2]: 14  In medieval times, they were known as marzapanetti alla senese or morzelletti.[3]: 38  They acquired the name ricciarelli in the 1800s.[3]: 38 

An alternative etymology, from the Treccani Italian dictionary, indicates the word 'ricciarèlli' is derived from 'rìccio,' meaning 'hedgehog,' perhaps for the original form. Particularly when coated with sliced almonds, the cookie looks like a hedgehog.


Today, the biscuits are made using an almond base[4]: 169  with sugar, honey and egg white. When prepared in the traditional method, the almonds are ground with a milling machine, and the finished mix is formed into numerous oval- or lozenge-shaped cookies[4]: 169  of about 20 grams (0.71 oz) each[3]: 39  that are set aside for two days before baking. After baking, they are removed from the oven and allowed to cool for 15 minutes, to prevent the cookies from breaking, before transferring them to wire racks.[1]: 179  They may be baked with rice paper, which is trimmed to the shape of the cookie after they have cooled.[1]: 179  The rough and crackled surface is usually lightly sprinkled with confectioner's sugar, and may also be covered in dark chocolate.[5]: 151 

Ricciarelli are typically consumed at Christmas, served with a dessert wine such as Vin Santo[5]: 151  or Moscadello di Montalcino.

Packaged cookies sold at retail are traditionally enveloped in a blue paper tissue depicting two winged horses from the Etruscan Archeological Museum in Volterra.[5]: 151 


  1. ^ a b c d e Esposito, Mary Ann (November 2003). Ciao Italia in Tuscany. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312321740.
  2. ^ Touring Club of Italy (2005). Itinerari: Siena e il Senese. Touring Editore. ISBN 8836531490.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c Touring Club of Italy (October 2004). Fichera, Paolo (ed.). I dolci delle feste. Touring Editore. ISBN 883653063X.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b Esposito, Mary Ann (2007). Ciao Italia in Tuscany: Traditional Recipes from One of Italy's Most Famous Regions. St. Martin's Press, Macmillan. ISBN 9781429904100.
  5. ^ a b c Touring Club of Italy (2005). Authentic Tuscany. Touring Editore. ISBN 8836532977.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)