Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cookie of the Month: Italian Easter Cookies

Yeah, yeah, I know Easter was at the beginning of April, not the end. So sue me; I haven't come up with a better method for picking out new recipes besides thinking of nearby holidays. (Coming in June: Flag Day cookies! :p) And these Italian Easter Cookies were not only extremely delicious, but lots of fun to make. The recipe:

½ cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
¼ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
5 t. baking powder

You can see that you end up with a dough that's a little bit sticky, similar to peanut butter cookie dough, but when rolled it actually has fewer cracks and breaks. This is probably due to the oil, and is a good thing, as you'll see from the shaping. Now the details:

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease cookie sheets. (I used my Pampered Chef stones, which don't need greasing.)

2. In a large bowl, cream together ½ cup butter and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla and almond extracts, milk, and oil. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir into the wet mixture. (Note: I used my super duper mixer, which did a great job of mixing even dough.)

3. Roll dough into 1-inch thick balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls out into ropes about 5 inches long. Tie into loose knots and place cookies 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. (Note: I didn't bother with the floured surface; I made the balls, then rolled them into ropes by using my hands, and it seemed to work fine. Of course, the cookie knots look unpleasantly like dog poop, but I figured I'd get over that once they were baked.)

4. Bake for 5 minutes on the bottom shelf and 5 minutes on the top shelf of the preheated oven, until the bottoms of the cookies are brown. (Note: in my oven, which tends to match times in other recipes, I needed around 7 minutes each on top and bottom to get the golden brown color.)

5. After cookies are cool, dip them in icing. Here's the recipe it called for:

4 cups confectioners' sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
3 T. milk
3-5 drops food coloring (optional)

Cream together the confectioners' sugar, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. (You'll think this crumble couldn't possibly turn into smooth icing, but it does.) Beat in 3 T milk, one tablespoon at a time, then stir in food coloring if desired.

My frosting technique was simple: grab the cookie by the sides and dip it directly into the icing. I got good coverage that way, and a nice amount of icing. (Enough to make the cookies look less like dog turds, but not so much as to make it too sweet. Even so, I ended up with an extra cup and a half of icing.) The icing remained pretty tacky, so I made sure to use wax paper between layers of cookies in my storage container.

And the verdict? Oh, my. These were extremely tasty, much like sugar cookies, but with a super smooth texture. I actually tried one unfrosted, and it was lightly sweet, reminding me of those Stella D'Oro cookies that were advertised all the time in the 1970s. (I don't remember seeing them recently, but since they have a website I guess you can still find them. It's not like I spend time in the manufactured cookie aisle when I shop.) Frosted, they were addictive little knots; good thing Boy liked them as much as I did, or I might have eaten the whole batch by myself.

I'm already thinking about a cookie recipe for next month ... although I may have to take a break from the feature during the summer months, or I won't fit into my shorts. Maybe I'll explore the world of diet cookies? .... Naw, that's almost as wrong as having Cookie Monster call cookies a "sometimes food."

Final verdict: nom nom nom nom nom (5 of 5 noms)


  1. I can attest from personal experience that these are yummy.

  2. So how many are you bringing with you this weekend? Enough for me, and maybe one each for everyone else.