name:English (United Kingdom) Ricciarelli: the history in a cake


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Ricciarelli: the history in a cake

They can be considered the standard cake together with Panforte representing the Sienese confectionery tradition. The origin of Ricciarelli di Siena is not very clear, it is known that stem from marzipan and marzipanetti, known since the fifteenth century and also present on the table of Caterina Sforza in the day of his wedding.

From East to Siena: ricciarelli and the marzipan

Marzipan had been imported, probably from the East. Some sources claim that the etymology of the word is derived from the Burmese town of Martaban while others are more inclined to believe that the name comes from the Arabic term mauthban, a typical container of the dough balls of marzipan. No one knows the exact date of the birth of these cakes, but it is plausible to believe that they are an elaboration of marzipan, based on what was in use in the East, where they dusted with flavors and scents that different pastry made with almonds, honey and sugar.


For ricciarelli it was used vanilla. This hypothesis could also support the argument of those who argue that the term "ricciarello" was coined just remembering those shoes with toes curled characteristics of these peoples. And it is also evident the strong bond of ricciarello with the Eastern world, but nothing is certain, except the great appreciation and their rapid growth both in Italy and abroad, especially in France.

The secret recipe

The processing of these sweets occurred in convents or apothecaries, the only places where they could be retrieved spices and flavorings needed to flavor and preserve foods. As evidence of this tradition can be seen even today, ancient apothecaries near Piazza del Campo (the historic city of Siena) that preserve frescoed ceilings with gold writing praising Ricciarelli, panforte and other sweet products processed in these workshops . Almonds, sugar and egg white are mixed and split into small pieces that are put into the oven. The final result is a very soft and aromatic pastry finished with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar.


The original ricciarelli are white, even if today you can also find the chocolate version obtained by mixing the almonds with dark chocolate.

Tips and info

Other than the many bakeries that are scattered in the center town, you can also find specialized little bakeries in every Contrada, such as the little shop in the Contrada of the Onda.

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