scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

by Stevie on December 14, 2009

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scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

I’ve been making this holiday cookie recipe off and on since I left my parents’ home for college. My mother gave it to me. She got it from her great aunt on the Italian side (I think). I do remember being very young and going to this ancient relative’s home around Christmas. She had a huge warm kitchen that was always completely covered with flour and confectioner’s sugar. The powdery stuff was on everything and floating through the air, too! But it was the smell that I recall so vividly. Anise, which smells like licorice, hit your nostrils as soon as you entered her home and intensified delightfully as we followed our noses to the work area. This double great aunt baked the cookies like I do here but she also had some made-to-order tiny cookie “waffle” irons that she used to press and simultaneously cook the dough into wafers that she dusted with powdered sugar. I simply adored seeing her at work and nibbling while my mother visited.

Unfortunately, Hegui doesn’t really care for anise flavoring. Perhaps it is an acquired taste. My mother and I are the only two in my family that I know of that really make these holiday cookies that often any more. Mom freezes them and has a few with tea for the first few months of the New Year. I bring them to holiday parties. You can thaw and ice them just before you go and you can be sure that nobody else will bring these light, delicate, almost heavenly treats. I have cracked under pressure in the past and made them with vanilla extract or almond flavoring. They’re still really good. But I prefer the classic and the wonderful memories that they evoke in me this time of year. Happy Holidays!

Scrumptious Italian Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:

key ingredients for scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

key ingredients for scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. anise flavoring
31/2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ cup milk (I used soy)

For icing:

1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. confectioner’s sugar
1/8 tsp. anise flavoring (optional)
Multi-colored nonpareil sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, sugar and anise flavoring together. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Gradually pour sifted dry ingredients into egg mixture about a third at a time alternating with some milk. Mix thoroughly after each addition. Flour counter and rolling pin. Pour batter onto counter and knead about a minute or two to ensure even consistency of dough. Roll flat to about ½ inch thickness.

cutting the dough for scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

cutting the dough for scrumptious Italian Christmas cookies

Using cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes. I usually make circles and gingerbread men. I’ve lost my star-shaped cookie cutter but that looked nice too. Place on flour-dusted baking sheet. Bake about 6 minutes. Quantity of cookies and baking time varies with size of cookie cutters. I made about eight dozen. Remove from trays and let cool completely.

When ready to serve, mix milk, powdered sugar and anise flavoring together in shallow bowl. Dip tops of cookies in mix. Place on holiday tray or dish and sprinkle with nonpareils.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

tasteofbeirut March 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

This is the same dough as springerle, the German anise scented cookie, also made for Christmas. I have bought wooden molds for these, some shaped like angels and such. Real cool, I love anise.

laura December 7, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I’m sorry but these cookies are awful. Is this recipe missing ingredients?! Nothing at all like my grandma used to make!

Stevie December 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

Well, I believe that I did indicate that they’re an acquired taste. Plus how could you realistically expect my family’s recipe to be like yours? Mine cannot have the magical ingredients found in your grandmother’s version: warm memories and love for you. Thanks for trying anyway.

Carrie December 17, 2011 at 10:50 am

I too feel like there is something left out from this recipe. Possibly the butter? I was very happy with the dough when I made them but after they cooked, they were spongy and meringue-like and not as cakey as I remember them to be. Good flavor, just not the right consistency for me. Thanks for sharing none-the-less.

Dee G November 14, 2012 at 11:00 am

I believe the oil is what is left out of the above receipe. Our family used:
6 eggs
2c sugar
1 c milk
1c liquid oil
3T Baking Powder
1 T of either anise, lemon, or vanilla flavoring (your preference)
6-8 c of All Purpose Flour

Beat eggs until foamy, slowly add in sugar. Mix in milk, oil, flavoring, and baking powder. Add flour until you get a nice consistency (dough should be pulling away from sides of bowl). Don’t add too much flour as cookies will be hard. I hand roll my cookies into different shapes, i.e., circles, dots, logs, and figure eights (use you imagination). Dough should be a little tacky, use flour on your hands to shape. It takes a couple of tries to get the dough right so you get the final texture you want.

My frosting consists of:

Confectionary sugar, water, flavoring, and food coloring. I don’t measure usually so it’s hard to describe. I put sugan in bowl, add my flavoring and food coloring then enough water to get to a good consistency to dip cookies in. I then add non-perells (optional) to top and let dry. My Dad liked them plain to dip in his coffee.

These cookies are a family favorite and receipe came from my Noona who came from Sicily, Italy, a island off Italian mainland (toe of the boot). Her village was Puerto Paulo.

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