Lazy days…

… or in my case, rather lazy years.  But I’d better start at the beginning.  Approximately 1½  years ago, I suddenly developed this mad craving for Italian sweets.  I can’t remember ever having had any of these at any point in my life, but I knew where this craving came from.   I had been reading a fair amount of chick lit, and in quite a few of them someone owned either an Italian restaurant or bakery.  And it all sounded unbelievably tasty – cannoli, sfogliatelle, cantuccini – so I started looking them up on the web to see what they looked like.  Then I started fantasizing about owning an Italian pasticceria, I could already smell all the baked goods, and when I asked my Italian colleague where I could buy some of this stuff in Stuttgart, she said: “Are you mad?!  These things just look colourful and taste disgusting!”  No! No, no, no – that can’t be!  There went my daydream…

Then I discovered that one of my friends owns Nigella Lawson’s The Domestic Goddess, which has a recipe for Italian ricciarelli.  Never heard of these before, but the picture looked good.  So I borrowed the book.  And every now and then my glance would sweep over my bookshelf and notice it sitting there.  Not among all the others, but put in a prominent place because I would be using it shortly, and I had to give it back to its owner.  And the other day I suddenly realized I had a craving for something sweet and Italian (no, I’m not talking about two-legged Italian sweeties, even though I saw Italy playing in the football world championships the other day…).  So I went to the bookshelf, looked up the ricciarelli recipe and made a shopping list.  Not, however, without a bit of a bad feeling for having been so lazy for over a year!  And, of course, for having kept a friend’s book for so long.

Totally embarrassed at first and then quickly full of good intentions, I have now made the ricciarelli.  My enthusiasm was stopped short for a moment on re-reading the recipe – I hadn’t noticed that it says you need to make the dough a day before you actually bake them.  Oh dear… I hate it when it says that, but that’s probably worth another post.  Anyway, I made the ricciarelli yesterday, baked them this morning, and here’s how it went.

First of all, they’re really quick and easy to make, apart from the fact that mine looked nothing like “small diamonds” like the recipe said they should, because even though I used icing sugar on my hands to handle the sticky dough and wore rubber gloves in addition, I didn’t manage to form proper diamonds.  Then the recipe said you could buy ready-ground almonds but grinding them yourself would get you a better result.  I opted for the ready-ground almonds and have to say it severely influences the consistency.  As you can see in the pictures, in my ricciarelli you can see the ground almonds, whereas in the book the texture looks really fine.  Also, the little vial containing the almond essence was really hard to handle because the drops wouldn’t come out properly, so I used a little force and I’m sure that in the end I got too much of it in the dough.

Conclusion:  It’s definitely for the better that I did not try to pursue a career as pasticceria owner…  As we all know, looks aren’t everything, but I have to admit the taste isn’t very spectacular either, which I’m sure is due to the consistency of the almonds and too much almond essence.  I’m a bit surprised at my amateurish result because I’m normally very capable in the kitchen, so I’ll very likely give these another try some time with self-ground almonds and less of the essence.

I’ll still take some to the office tomorrow, couldn’t possibly eat them all myself.  Well, I could, but we all know where that leads…

The Telegraph has actually published the recipe, so go and have a try – you can’t be less successful than me!

Advertisements