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Italian Christmas Cookies

Italian Christmas Cookies


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  • Prep 35min
  • Total2hr25min
  • Servings60

Ricotta and lemon...because sometimes you need to shake tradition up a bit.MORE+LESS-

Updated September 20, 2016

Make with

Betty Crocker Cookies

Ingredients

Cookies

1

pouch (1 lb 1.15 oz) Betty Crocker™ sugar cookie mix

1/2

cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

1/2

cup part-skim ricotta cheese (from 15-oz container)

2

teaspoons grated lemon peel

Glaze and Decorations

4

to 5 tablespoons lemon juice

Assorted holiday candy sprinkles

Steps

Hide Images

  • 1

    Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir Cookie ingredients until soft dough forms.

  • 2

    With floured hands, shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

  • 3

    In small bowl, beat powdered sugar and lemon juice until glaze is smooth and can be easily spread. Spread glaze over cookies; immediately top with candy sprinkles. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Expert Tips

  • Ricotta cookies with lemon are a traditional Italian Christmas dessert.
  • For even baking, make sure the cookies are the same size and shape.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 Cookie
Calories
70
Calories from Fat
20
% Daily Value
Total Fat
2 1/2g
4%
Saturated Fat
1 1/2g
7%
Trans Fat
0g
Cholesterol
10mg
3%
Sodium
40mg
2%
Potassium
10mg
0%
Total Carbohydrate
12g
4%
Dietary Fiber
0g
0%
Sugars
8g
Protein
0g
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
0%
0%
Vitamin C
0%
0%
Calcium
0%
0%
Iron
0%
0%
Exchanges:

0 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 0 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 1/2 Fat;

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.


Recreating Grandma Minnie's Mountains of Italian Christmas Cookies

These six cookies bring me back to Worcester, Massachusetts, circa 1988, with Duraflame logs in the fireplace and Mitch Miller booming from the turntable. Velour couches, candy bowls full of Hershey’s Kisses, gallon jugs of my grandfather’s punchy basement Zinfandel, and a china cabinet that rattled so loudly my cousins and I would compete to see who could set it rocking and tittering the most when running past.

My grandmother, Erminia “Minnie” Morocco, treated cookies like a form of currency. She was obsessed with counting everything and anything she made. “145 biscotti this year!” she would bellow. “204 pizzettes!” They were currency to her kids and grandkids as well. A few Ziploc bags of her cookies in the freezer could get us through the holidays and well into the New Year when rationed carefully. Chewy-soft molasses-y hermit slices with the faintest sheen of browned butter glaze. Pizzettes, whose strange name has always been synonymous with the chocolate, spice, and citrus flavors that simply meant Christmas to us Italians. Her spritz cookies were buttery magic to me, miracles of uniformity and green sprinkles, the gateway cookie that I fell for as soon as I could eat solid food. Most were served by the hundreds if not thousands at every major family event I can think of, piled in tiers on banquet tables and protected from premature eating by elaborate ruffles of bound plastic wrap. They were there for as long as I could remember. Until they weren’t.


12 Italian Christmas Cookies That Are Simply Magnifico

It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that Italians are bound by tradition almost as much as they adore good food. And it's a good thing, too: At Christmas in Italy you can sure that there will be cookies and sweet, golden breads, just as there are piles of fried pastries many powdered with sugar, in the days leading up to mid-winter Carnevale, there is colomba, a dove-shaped cake, seen in every shop and bakery before Easter. At Christmastime, friends visiting one another always bring a cheerfully-wrapped panettone and plates of cookies are on tables in most houses, for dipping into coffee or a glass of vin santo.

Throughout the country and (or maybe especially) on the island of Sicily, holidays have specific foods and rituals associated with them. These vary from region to region, naturally, but how comforting it is to have a sense of predictability when the holidays roll around each year, and there are the cookies of the season, like our fig buccellati and Anise Orange Cookies, to look forward to.

Many cookie and pastry recipes in what is now Italy can be traced back centuries to the early spice trading routes, when cinnamon, ginger and black pepper were introduced to the kitchens of Venice and spread gradually further into other regions. Italian bakers also rely on their wonderful almonds for cookies like the Amaretti Cookies shown here, and fruits, like figs which they add to holiday recipes to indicate prosperity, generosity, and luxury. These have become popular as part of a New Year's celebration&mdashliterally wishing guests a fruitful year ahead.


Italian Christmas Cookies

These Italian Christmas cookies have become our favorite Christmas recipe – try them and see for yourself how delicious they are!
Has Christmas fever started to shake you up?
I’m burning up! More specifically, I’m burning, because I want everything, but I manage not to finish anything. I have xx open eyelashes with recipes that I want to prepare, eat, erase from the “to do” list because it’s not good to move all that to the New Year, right?
But it’s not happening the way I would like it to… and this terrible weather! I’m waiting for noon to start taking pictures, the closer the moment gets, the darker it gets. I will never get used to the winter weather.

Ingredients

Cookies
4 eggs
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of butter
2 tsp. vanilla
3½ cup of flour
4 tsp. baking powder
Icing
2 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
6 teaspoons of water


Italian Christmas Cookies - Recipes

These are the best recipes I've collected from my relatives for authentic Italian Christmas Cookies. Your family and guests will be impressed with your baking skills!

Make them a couple of days ahead of time and enjoy them this Christmas as the delectable conclusion to your Christmas Dinner Menu!


The following Italian Christmas Cookie recipes are from my dear Aunt Teresa. She bakes her Italian Christmas Cookies each year - it's a tradition!

3 cups flour
dash of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks butter - room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 jumbo egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
large handful of sesame seeds
1 tablespoon of heavy cream

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder and sift together in a medium bowl. In another bowl, blend the butter with a fork into the sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time to the blended butter and sugar and mix. Add the vanilla and mix well. Combine the flour mixutre and the butter mixture and work with hands until doughy. Form the dough into a ball. Cover the dough ball in the bowl with plastic wrap and refridgerate until cold.

Lightly flour cutting board and roll the dough into long strips about 3/4 inch thick. Cut the strips into 2 inch logs. Dip each log into the heavy cream and roll onto the sesame seeds to coat well. Place them on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 600 degrees F for approximately 9 minutes.

Strufoli or Honey Balls are classic Italian Christmas cookies. We serve them every Christmas and everyone loves them.

1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Oil for deep-fat frying
1 cup honey
Candy sprinkles

In a bowl, combine sugar, lemon peel, vanilla and salt. Add eggs and 2 cups flour mix well. Turn onto a floured surface and knead in remaining flour (dough will be soft). With a floured knife or scissors, cut into 20 pieces.

With hands, roll each piece into log shapes about 1/2 inch thick. Cut "logs" into 1/2-in. pieces. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 350°. Fry pieces, a few at a time, for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Place in a large bowl. Heat honey to boiling pour over cookies and mix well.

With a slotted spoon, spoon onto a serving platter and slowly mound into a tree shape if desired. Or you can make individual servings by spooning a large spoonful into cupcake tins. Decorate with candy sprinkles. Cool completely. Yield: about 15 dozen.

These Italian Christmas Cookies look like snow balls.
Christmas Walnut Cookies

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons walnuts (you may use pecans or almonds too),finely ground
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups sifted flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter in a bowl. Gradually add confectioners sugar and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add nuts and vanilla. Blend well. Now add the flour and mix with mixer. Shape into small balls using about 1 teaspoon for each cookie. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes - DO NOT BROWN. Cool slightly. Roll each cookie into the confectioners sugar. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

The Pecan Crescents Italian Christmas Cookies look like they were dipped in snow.
Pecan Crescents

1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pecans
1 3/4 cups flour
Confectioners sugar for topping

In a large bowl and with an electric beater, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Add the pecans and mix well. While mixer is on low, gradually beat in the flour until just blended. Don't over mix. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour until firm.

Heat the oven to 300 degrees F and use an ungreased cookie sheet.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Lightly flour a cutting board and roll the dough into 8 long ropes. Cut each rope into 8 individual 1 inch pieces. Shape them into crescents. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden. While still warm, roll them in the confectioners sugar. Makes 64 cookies.

These Italian Christmas Cookies are so colorful and festive looking!

I believe these Italian Christmas Cookies originated in Venice.
Italian Rainbow Cookies

1/2 cup almond paste
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
dash of salt
5 drops green food coloring
4 drops red food coloring
2/3 cup apricot preserves
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Lightly grease the bottoms of three 8 inch square pans. Line with wax paper and grease the paper.

Place the almond paste in a large bowl, Add the butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract. Beat with mixer until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the flour and salt. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Stir in 1/4 of the whites into the dough, then fold in the remaining whites. Dough will be stiff.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Tint one part green with food coloring and another part red. Leave the remaining portion white. Spread each part into the prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 13-15 minutes. Immediately invert onto wire racks. Remove the waxed paper. Do the same for each pan. Cool completely.

Place the green layer on a large piece of plastic wrap. Spread with 1/3 cup of the apricot preserves. Place the white layer on top and spread with remaining apricot preserves. Top with the red layer. Bring plastic wrap over the layers and place in a baking dish. Place a cutting board over the pan to flatten the layers. Refrigerate for 8 hours.

Melt chocolate in the microwave. Remove dessert from pan and plastic wrap. Spread the melted chocolate over the top. Let stand until the chocolate is set. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2 inch bars. Makes about 2 dozen. Beautiful and delicious!

These Italian Christmas Cookies are one of my favorite - probably because they're chocolate!
Chocolate Biscotti

1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, combine butter, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually add to the butter mixture just until combined. Mixture will be crumbly.

Lightly flour cutting board and knead the dough mixture with the almonds and chocolate chips. Divide dough in half. On an ungreased baking sheet, shape each part into 12 inch x 3 inch log. Make sure to leave a 3 inch space between the logs.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are cracked. Cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut diagonally with a sharp knife into 1/2 inch slices.

Put back on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until firm and dry. Remove and cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 3 dozen. Great dunked in milk or coffee!