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Sugar Free Italian Almond Cookies

Sugar Free Italian Almond Cookies

This recipe is an adaptation of the Italian Ricciarelli cookies that are famous for its almond flavour and delightfully chewy texture. You get all that with this recipe just not the sugar hit and it’s also gluten free – winner! 


The Ricciarelli is a traditional Italian biscuit originating in the 14th century in the historic town of Siena. Legend holds that this recipe was introduced by Ricciardetto della Gherardesca in his castle near Volterra upon his return from the crusades, which would explain the origin of the name of these chewy delights.


Ricciarelli biscuits are traditionally enjoyed in Italy around Christmas with a dessert wine, which sounds delightful, but I think these beauties can be enjoyed anytime of the year and is the perfect accompaniment with your favourite cup of tea or coffee.


I have used xylitol in this recipe as the sugar replacement as it tastes and bakes like sugar, with no aftertaste. This is my preferred sugar alternative to stevia or monk fruit but if I had to choose between stevia and monk fruit, I would go for monk fruit. Sometimes monk fruit impacts the texture of the final product so you might need to test it out first and see how you go.


So, what is xylitol you might ask? The non-scientific answer is that it’s a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in most plant material and is a common ingredient used in sugar free chewing gum, candies and oral care products. Typically, xylitol is processed from the birch tree or corn, but I always go for 100% birch xylitol. Xylitol has 40% less calories than sugar and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, making it a popular sweetener in low carb products. There is a lot of information about xylitol on the web, take a look if you’re not sure about whether it suits your dietary requirements.


Want to make these biscuits according to the original recipe? Go for it, just replace the xylitol with caster (superfine) white sugar and enjoy! These cookies are traditionally dusted with icing sugar adding to its presentation and flavour.


Get creative and swap out the almond essence with orange essence and add in some grated orange rind, almond and orange a match made in heaven!


This has been one of my most popular recipes with my IG audience, I would love to hear what you think, leave a comment at the bottom of this page.


Okay, here’s how to make it.


What you’ll need:

3 cups almond meal

1 cup xylitol or 1 cup caster sugar

3 lightly beaten egg whites

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup flaked almonds set aside in a bowl


How to make it:


  1. Mix almond meal, xylitol or sugar in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Add the almond essence to the lightly beaten egg whites and whish through.
  3. Add egg white mixture to the almond mixture and combine until it forms a soft dough – the mixture will be on the slightly sticky side.
  4. Roll into balls in the palm of your hand – in terms of sizing you can make then any size you like, I normally work on 1½ tablespoons for sizing. Slightly flatten and press the cookie into the flaked almond mixture so that the almonds stick to the top of the cookie. This process is a little fiddly but be patient it’s worth it.
  5. Place the cookies on a lined baking tray and place in a pre-heated oven at 180°C or 350° F for 18-20 minutes.
  6. Cool and store in an airtight container and will keep for a few days if they last…

I hope you enjoy these!





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