With Christmas drawing near I thought it might be nice to have a few friends over for a coffee and gossip before the silly season really hit us. So I thought I would host a cookie exchange! There were 5 of us participating and each of us made half a dozen cookies or similar for each person attending. We had lunch and a chat, the tea and coffee was exchanged for bubbles (it is almost Christmas after all), and then we exchanged the loot! The aim was to have a selection of goodies to keep us going over the Christmas period, as it turns out almost all of the exchanged goods in my house have already been eaten.
Below is the array of goodies received, thank you to my lovely friends for a great day and all those yummy treats!
Starting at the top and going clockwise : Double Chocolate Chip Christmas cookies, Cranberry and Pistachio Shortbread, Cherry Choc Biscotti, a selection of chocolate truffles – flavours include Rosewater/Turkish Delight, Lime & Coconut, and Cranberry Dark Chocolate, and finally Ricciarelli (Sienese Christmas cookies).
I first had Ricciarelli at my Mum’s at Christmas time a couple of years ago. They are simple to make and there are many flavour variations to try. Mum usually makes them with a glace cherry on top, I decided to add grated orange rind instead. The combination of the orange and almonds was fantastic, even if I do say so myself! Ricciarelli keep really well in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.
- 2 large egg whites
- 170gms ground almonds (Almond Flour or Meal)
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (I used vanilla extract)
- rum or brandy or Ameretto
- 1/2 orange, zest of or 1 lemon, zest of
- 1 tablespoon candied orange or lemon peel
- 340gms of good dark chocolate
- Sieve together the Icing Sugar, Flour and Baking Power into a bowl, then mix in the Ground Almonds.
- In a separate bowl, add a couple of drops of almond extract to the egg whites and then whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Stir the stiffened egg whites into the dry mixture until a sticky ‘dough’ is formed.
- If you are trying the options, at this point add either a tablespoon of mixed orange/lemon peel OR the zest of half a lemon/orange OR a tablespoon of Rum, Brandy or Amaretto.
- Sprinkle a board with sifted Icing Sugar and take a desertspoon full of the dough, roll in the Icing Sugar and form into a ball. Flatten the ball a little with the back of a fork. Continue until all your dough is gone (the amount above should make 12-16 cookies).
- Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and place your dough balls on, taking care to leave space for ‘spread’ during cooking.
- Pop into an oven that’s been preheated to 200C until golden brown. This should take approximately 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from oven and leave to cool completely. If you are intending to dip the cookies in chocolate, at this stage you should melt very good quality dark chocolate (70%+ cocoa solids) in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and dip the cooled cookies inches Return them to the tray and cool off in the fridge or a cool place until chocolate is set.