Christmas cookies and happy hearts. This is how the holidays start.Unknown
‘Tis the time to make good cheer . . . . and Christmas cookies, of course! While gingerbread and sugar cookies are go-to bakes this time of year, why not bring a little bit of la dolce vita to your cookie jar?
Despite growing up Italian, we didn’t bake a lot in the house when I was small. My zest for baking and all things Italian was cultivated in my adult years through experimentation and meeting new friends. As I have gotten older, I tend to turn to those Italian roots in my cooking and baking. It brings me back to my culture, and well, it’s just downright delicious decadence.
The Italians have made an art out of Christmas cookies, and there are dozens of delicious recipes to try. From age-old traditional recipes to modern twists on Italian classics, we’re sharing our favorite Italian cookie recipes that would sweeten any party dessert table, office break room, or cozy kitchen counter.
So, don your apron and put on a festive holiday playlist, and enjoy making some of Italy’s most delicious Christmas cookies!
I recently lived next door to the most fun and delightful Sicilian couple. We would frequently meet at the back fence and trade goodies. I’d hand over a pint of freshly churned ice cream, and in return, they would bestow the best Italian cookies and biscotti. Of the varieties I tasted, my favorite was this recipe for panettone biscotti.
Panettone is a traditional bread made with lots of tasty add-ins like raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds and brandy. It is one of the most classic Italian desserts, so why not turn it into a dippable cookie, too?
In this recipe, we blend two Italian favorites: panettone and biscotti for an incredible Christmas treat. As with any biscotti, these panettone biscottis are best enjoyed when dipped in coffee. I like mine with a splash of amaretto, like in this Italian take on the classic Irish coffee. [Scroll down further for the recipe.]
Classic Italian Christmas Cookies with Icing
If you want to dress your table with the most authentic Italian Christmas cookies, look no further than, well, Italian Christmas cookies! This sugar cookie with a thin glaze and sprinkles is a must-have crowd-pleasing cookie for any family fathering. Kids especially love them! Make them with classic red and green sprinkles, or try crushed peppermint for a minty version.
If you love cannolis, you’ll love this deconstructed version of the Italian treat. A typical cannoli is a fried pastry shell filled with sweetened ricotta cheese. With these cannoli cookies, however, you’ll enjoy a more cake-like textured cookie rather than a crsip pastry. Experiment with different add-ins like cinnamon, pistachios, orange zest, and maraschino cherries to make your favorite type of cannoli cookies.
Pizzelle cookies are deliciously crisp waffle cookies spiced with a hint of anise and topped with powdered sugar. They make the perfect wintery Christmas cookie because they look like delicate snowflakes. Enjoy them alone, with a cup of tea, or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
While anise is traditional, it can be an overwhelming flavor for some. If you’re not an anise fan, feel free to get creative! Just replace the anise extrate with another extract flavor like orange, lemon, or almond.
Cucidati (Italian Fig Cookies)
Cucidati are like fancier, sweeter Fig Newton cookies. They are believed to have originated in Sicily and Southern Italy, where families would make large batches for Christmas and St. Joseph’s Day. You can make different shaped cucidati, but we’ve stuck with the traditional “little bracelet” shape where these cookies get their name.
Ennjoy your cucidati with a cup of spiced Italian mulled wine!
Italian Rainbow Cookies
Rainbow cookies, or tri-color cookies, were developed by Italian immigrants in America to honor their heritage (the red, green and white layers represent the colors of the Italian flag). They take a little bit of planning and assembly, but they are worth all the effort! These little layered almond and chocolate cookies are more cake-like than your average Christmas cookie, which gives a nice balance to a plate full of crunchy biscotti or crispy pizzelle.
Tip: For flawless Italian Rainbow cookies, be sure to chill overnight and use a quality serrated knife to get picture-perfect rainbow squares.
Brutti ma Buoni
Brutti ma buoni means “Ugly but good,” and there’s no better way to describe these cookies! This Italian take on meringue gives you a nutty treat that’s crunchy on the outside and delightfully chewy on the inside. Enjoy your brutti ma buoni alone, or crumble over vanilla ice cream for a special treat.
Italian Polenta Cookies
Got extra polenta in the cupboard? Why not make some crunchy polenta cookies?! David Leibowitz’s Italian polenta cookie recipe is easy to make and a favorite of those who like a less-sweet after-dinner treat. In fact, these cookies are so low in sugar, you could easily nibble on a few for breakfast, guilt-free.
Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Lemon ricotta cookies are a great way to brighten up your Christmas cookie tray. These cookies are rather light compared to denser sugar cookies, thanks to the use of ricotta instead of heavy butter or oil. Finish your cooled cookies off with powdered sugar to balance the tart lemon flavor with a touch of sweetness and make them look like snowballs!
- Baking Sheets
- Parchment Paper
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Aroma Panettone
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup coarsley chopped nuts almonds, preferred
- 1/2 cup dark Belgian chocolate 70%, preferred
- 1/2 cup mixed chopped glace fruit red and green cherries, figs, etc.
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, eggs, sugar, and almond extract until well-blended.
- Combine the flour and baking powder. Stir into the egg mixture to form a heavy dough.
- Divide dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a roll as long as your cookie sheet.
- Place roll onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press down to 1/2 inch thickness. (This can be tricky because it is a wet dough, but keep at it.)
- Bruch egg wash on top of each roll.
- Bake logs for 25-30 minutes, rotating once during the baking time. The logs will be firm to touch when baked. Allow to cool on trays for at least 15 minutes.
- With a sharp serrated knife, slice each log into 1/2-inch slices
- Lay the slices onto the parchment lined tray and bake for 20-30 minutes. (Cookies will not spread any longer.) Rotate the trays halfway through the baking time to ensure the biscotte bake evenly.
Susan DiGiovanniDecember 10, 2021
Love this… you know I will be trying the cannoli cookies soon! Miss you Luanna!
Stacy KopperDecember 10, 2021
So what you are saying is that the diet should start after the holidays. I’m putting together a shopping list to make the fig cookies this weekend.