1. Prepare the Syrup: Peel the zest from the orange in long strips and julienne. In a saucepan of boiling water, blanch the zest for 30 seconds. Drain and repeat. In the saucepan, simmer the orange juice, sugar, water and blanched zest until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
2. Prepare the Ricotta Topping: In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.
3. Prepare the Pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda. In another large bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg yolks and ricotta. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. In a large, clean stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry; fold them into the batter.
4. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat a thin film of vegetable oil. Drop in 1/4-cup dollops of batter and cook over moderately high heat, 2 minutes per side, until golden and fluffy. Serve about 3 pancakes per person. Pass the orange syrup, ricotta topping and toasted almonds at the table.