Cookies, Recipes

Italian Christmas Cookies

These cookies are soft, buttery, fluffy and melt in your mouth delicious! And as all Italian cookies are, perfect for dipping in espresso….or wine!

Most Italian cookies are often made with anise, which is a licorice flavor. Not everyone loves that flavor so for these cookies, I did a little switching around and used vanilla and almond extracts instead. If you want that traditional Italian cookie taste, add the anise either way you will love these cookies. Now the secret to these cookies is the Ricotta cheese, it makes for the moist tender cookies ever!

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon anise, optional

The Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Christmas sprinkles for topping

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cover a baking sheet with Parchment paper. 

Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy with the paddle attachment. 

Add in the ricotta cheese and eggs and mix until incorporated.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and powder. 

Slowly add to the wet ingredients and beat together until combined.

Scoop the dough into teaspoons and roll into a ball. Drop on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just set. 

Remove onto a wire rack to let cool.

To make the glaze:

In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and almond extract until you get the desired consistency. I like to dip the top of the cookies in the glaze and let them set on parchment paper. Sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles immediately.

Recipes

Zeppole

In 2007, my family and I took a Carnival cruise around the Mediterranean coast. My Papa, grandfather had the biggest sweet tooth and loved to try all the Italian desserts. While we were in Naples, we stopped at a cafe for Limoncello. In the bakery case, they were selling fried dough dusted with powdered sugar, Zeppole. Naturally, my Papa ordered us some to go along with our Limoncello. We were handed a brown paper bag filled with Zeppoles.

We explored Naples, carrying that beautiful greasy bag, pulling Zeppole out one at a time, getting the sugar all over ourselves. We were two very happy people! 

Zeppole are tiny Italian doughnuts – crisp, light and incredibly fluffy, usually served in a brown paper bag or wrapped in parchment paper.

Zeppole make the perfect Hostess gift. Brian and I made them for our Friends Thanksgiving at our friend’s Jason and Paul’s house.

As it turns out, Zeppole are really easy to make at home and take almost no time at all — about 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of unsifted flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese 
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Confectioners Sugar for Dusting or maybe Cinnamon Sugar
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Crack your two eggs into the mixing bowl and beat until foamy.  

Add all of your dry ingredients into the eggs in the mixing bowl while on slow speed and then add  your ricotta and vanilla right away.  

Continue to mix on a slow speed till it is all combined.  The batter will be thick…creamy and sticky.  It is not a cookie dough consistency…it is a rich thick waffle type batter. Do not over mix.

Have your oil ready in your favorite pot.  I use a cast iron  dutch oven.  Your oil should be approximately 375 degrees.

I use a small cookie dough scoop …first I spray it with oil so that batter doesn’t stick …then scoop up the batter (no exact measurement here : ) and carefully drop it into the oil…repeat with consecutive scoops but don’t let them touch…

Zeppoles will turn themselves over. Fry them for about about 3 minutes…if they are a little bigger…a little longer.

Once you get to that nice deep golden brown it is time to scoop them up and place them on brown paper or paper towels to drain. Continue with another batch. 

Sprinkle them with Confectioners sugar or some Cinnamon Sugar.