Too delicious to save just for Christmas, these cookies are favorites at Italian weddings—and any other sweet occasion during the year.
Gracing a china plate in Nona’s parlor on Christmas Eve, nestled on tissue paper on the shelves of the neighborhood bakery, or adding a sweet note to cousin Sal’s reception—one deliciously humble confection is omnipresent in Italian life. Sometimes called Italian Christmas Cookies and known the rest of the year as Wedding Cookies (with versions also named for Russia and Mexico), these melt-in-your mouth rounds have been delighting people for decades—maybe because they’re so easy to get right!
Italian Christmas Cookies
Two quick tips:
- The recipe calls for ground almonds, but if your store doesn’t carry them, get slivered almonds (no skin) and grind them in your food processor.
- Anise is the most classic flavor, but you may substitute almond, vanilla, or even lemon extract for a different flavor profile.
For the dough:
- 2 1/4 cups flour (all purpose)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 sugar
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened (but not melted)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons anise extract
For the glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (or anise extract)
Rainbow sprinkles (optional)
- In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients: baking powder, salt, and flour. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, butter, and anise extract on medium speed until light and fluffy. (2-3 minutes)
- Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and combine slowly, just until incorporated.
- Roll a tablespoon of dough into and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, spacing balls an inch apart.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove pan from fridge. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. They should be firm but not brown.
- Cool to room temperature. While they cool, mix glaze ingredients (powdered sugar, milk, extract).
- Drizzle or spread frosting onto cooled cookies. If you wish, top the glaze with festive sprinkles.
Savor all the delights of Italian cuisine when you join O.A.T. for Sicily's Ancient Landscapes & Timeless Traditions.