My Favorite Italian Christmas Desserts

christmas cookies

What would the holidays be without our favorite sweet treats? They’re treasured family traditions with special memories attached in every bite. We all have our favorite cookies and Christmas desserts that we fondly remember having during holidays of past, so I’m sharing a few of mine because it just wouldn’t be Christmas time without them.

Through out the years I created some of my own Christmas dessert traditions and ones that I intend to keep making each year, plus I’m always on the look out for something new, so stay tuned!

pandoro christmas cake

Italian Christmas Tree Cake with Lemon Curd and Limoncello

Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake with Amaretto and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

 

puff christmas cookies

 

Puff Cookies

fig biscotti

 

Fig and Pistachio Biscotti
rosette cookies

Rosette Christmas Cookies

anginetti cookies

Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies

anise biscotti

Anise Biscotti

fig cookies

Cucidati, Sicilian Fig Cookies

pizzelle cookies

Pizzelle

cappucino biscotti

Cappuccino Biscotti

Happy baking everyone!

Signature

Rosette Christmas Cookies

holiday rosette cookies

Do you remember rosette cookies? When I was a kid we would have these cookies every year around the holidays and then when I got married I had my very own set of rosette irons they were snowflakes, but somehow they vanished through the years and they’ve been nowhere to be found.

holiday rosette cookies

You really don’t see the irons in stores anymore but you can find them online, I ordered my set from Amazon, I thought the tree and snowflake would be perfect for the holidays but there are also so many other shapes available that you could use throughout the year, flowers, butterflies, bunnies, fish, birds, hearts, I could go on and on.

They’re very simple to make, you whip up a batter, sort of like a crepe batter which you can flavor with different extracts, I used vanilla with some added vanilla bean but you can also use, almond, anise, rum, lemon and even orange, whatever you like.

HELPFUL HINTS

Make your batter ahead of time and refrigerate it for a couple of hours or overnight, your cookies will be nice and crispy… Keep your oil at 365 for best results, so you’ll need a candy thermometer… Heat your iron in the oil for about 8 minutes before you start to dip them… They can be stored in an airtight container for months, they can also be frozen and if needed you can re-crisp them in a 300 degree oven.

holiday rosette cookies

On the back of the package you’ll find some helpful tips plus a recipe for the batter, but I didn’t care for the recipe they had so I slightly adapted my friend Paula’s recipe which turned out perfectly, not one cookie broke!

holiday rosette cookiesholiday rosette cookies

Placed on a pretty platter these rosettes would be the perfect addition to your holiday dessert table, don’t you think?

Follow along and see what else I’m cooking up during the week on Instagram, here’s the link.

4.8 from 4 reviews
Rosette Christmas Cookies
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup of flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla or other extract or vanilla bean
  • oil for frying
Instructions
  1. For the batter beat all ingredients together until incorporated then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to ensure a crispy cookie.
  2. Place 3 inches of oil into a saucepan.
  3. Heat to 365 and keep temperature there.
  4. Attach iron to the handle and submerge in hot oil for at least 8 minutes.
  5. Lift iron out and blot on paper towel.
  6. Dip hot iron into the batter ¾ up the sides, let it coat the iron but do not submerge, it will not release.
  7. Keep it under the oil for a few seconds as you see it turning golden, then gently shake it a little and it will usually release, if it doesn't just take a fork and gently nudge it, then flip it over until golden brown on both sides.
  8. Lift it out gently and let it drain on paper towels.
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  10. This recipe makes quite a bit, around 40

 

Signature

Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies

anginetti, Italian lemon knots

Iced Italian cookies, lemon drops, lemon knots, wedding knots or anginetti, whatever your family calls them you’ll be sure to find these traditional Italian cookies at many special occasions and holiday cookie trays. Like most Italian cookies the cookie itself is not too sweet, it has a nice moist crumb and by frosting it you’ll get a more intense lemon flavor, which is a good thing!

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

They’re like little puffs, they look the same color from the raw to baked state except they’ll get puffier and golden brown on the bottom.

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

Honestly, there are so many variations to this cookie, just do a Google search and you’ll see what I mean, but the general idea remains the same. In the past I’ve made them with Crisco shortening, that’s what they used back in the day, then I tried some Organic non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, which quite honestly turned out a little drier, I think if I upped the amount they would have been better, but this time I used all butter.

You’ll also see other flavorings used such as almond and anise as well as different colored frosting’s and sprinkles, but my family always sticks with lemon.

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

Instead of colored sprinkles which I normally use, this time I wanted  to do a white on white look by using tiny white nonparells and white sparkling sugar and a little lemon zest for garnish, but you can just stir some zest into your frosting instead.

Speaking of frosting, this time I tried a limoncello frosting which was very good but the traditional with extract, lemon juice and zest is just as good!

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

It’s time to get baking!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies
 
A traditional Italian cookie served at holidays and special occasions.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • one and one half cups of melted butter that has cooled down, not hot. Or you can use a vegetable shortening of your choice
  • 1 cup of milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • zest of 1 lemon for cookie and zest of 1 lemon for icing
  • 1 1oz. bottle of lemon extract
  • sprinkles of your choice
Instructions
  1. If you like dough can be made the day before and it will be nice and chilled to work with or you can start scooping them right after you make the dough but probably you will have to chill it for a while as you're making the cookies and the dough stays out. I sometimes stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to get it to firm up again.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, then the extract and zest.
  3. In a smaller bowl whisk the flour, salt and baking powder, then slowly add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, you might not have to use all the milk.
  4. When everything is incorporated, let the dough rest for 5 minutes or wrap and chill overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees. and place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. To form the knots I like to use a cookie scoop so all will be similar in size, then take the scoop of dough and roll it into a log about 5 or 6 inches, it's the length of a bench scraper, that's how I measure mine.
  7. Then take one side of the log and spiral it into a circle, you can tuck the other end down or up, it doesn't matter.
  8. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes according to your oven, mine took exactly 12 minutes, you want the underneath to be golden brown, not dark brown.
  9. Cool on racks.
  10. LIMONCELLO ICING
  11. One and one half cups of powdered sugar
  12. Five tablespoons of limoncello Liqueur
  13. zest of 1 lemon
  14. TRADITIONAL LEMON ICING
  15. One and one half cups of powdered sugar
  16. zest of 1 lemon
  17. One half teaspoon of lemon extract
  18. and lemon juice to get the right consistency.
  19. I always taste my icing to make sure it has the right amount of lemon, you can always add more, and I also like to brush my icing on instead of dipping., personal preference.
  20. After frosting immediately put your sprinkles on and then let the whole cookie dry for about an hour.
  21. You can keep them in tins with wax paper in between, or you can freeze them in an airtight container right after they bake and cool down, then frost them a day or two ahead before you'll be eating them.

 

Signature

Cappuccino Biscotti

cappuccino biscotti Tis the season to start your Christmas baking! Each year you can count on me to make my two favorite biscotti,  Fig and Pistachio and traditional Anise flavored. Biscotti are wonderful crunchy treats to have on hand when friends and family stop by and you need a little something to go with your coffee.

cappuccino biscotti This year I wanted to add another one to my list especially since I have a deep love for all things coffee, so I decided to make Cappuccino Biscotti.  How could I resist, these crunchy little gems have two of my favorite ingredients, espresso and Kahlua liqueur, plus pecans and mini chocolate chips!

cappuccino biscotti dough The dough comes together quick, one bowl with no mixer, which really appeals to me.  Form your logs, place on parchment, bake, then let them cool down before slicing.

cutting biscotti Have I told you how awesome it is to slice your biscotti with an electric knife? This was a tip my sister-in- law gave me a few years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Don’t get me wrong you can still use a serrated knife, but you have to go nice and easy and you might get more crumbles if you have a lot of fruit and nuts inside,  but if you have an electric knife in your pantry somewhere, dust it off and give it a try, I promise you will use it every time, it makes a beautiful sharp clean cut and the slicing process goes really fast!

twice baked cappuccino biscottikahlua and biscotti Since I had the kahlua out I mixed myself up a vintage Kahlua and cream like I use to drink in the old days. Wow, I forgot how good it was, and the biscotti was  the perfect compliment!

cappuccino biscotti and espresso But I still think the absolute best way to enjoy these is when they’re sitting alongside a nice cup of hot coffee or espresso.

Happy Baking!

Cappuccino Biscotti
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp instant espresso
  • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup of mini chocolate chips, semi sweet
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tblsp kahlua liqueur
  • ½ cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl combine sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and instant espresso, use a pastry cutter to blend in the cold butter until the mixture is fine and crumbly.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips, pecans, eggs and Kahlua until dough gets nice and moistened, knead on a floured surface until dough is soft and slightly sticky.
  4. Divide dough into quarters and with floured hands shape each quarter into a 9" long roll. Place 2 rolls 4" apart on each baking sheet. Gently flatten each log into a 2' wide slab.
  5. Bake in oven for 15 to 30 minutes, mine took 15 but check to make sure the tops of the slabs are firm and dry and watch bottoms so they don't burn.
  6. Remove and reduce oven to 325F, set the slabs on a rack to cool down for about 10 minutes.
  7. Cut slabs crosswise into ½ " thick slices. Place slices cut side down on baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, turn them over to the other side and bake another 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer to rack to cool down completely. Store in cookie tins.
  9. RECIPE ADAPTED FROM CRUMB; A FOOD BLOG

 

Signature

Holiday Baking has Begun!

I don’t consider myself a baker, using exact measurements is a difficult thing for me to do, as regular readers of my blog well know, but there are certain things I must bake every holiday season and one thing is Italian fig cookies or Cucidati, they’re truly a family favorite.
I’ve posted them a few times before but since my blog chronicles my life in food I thought I’d share some recent pic’s of the day we made them. I say “we” because I never make them alone, always with family, we make a day of it, we start early, I usually always make a pot of soup or chili to eat for lunch because we go way beyond lunch time!

I have a big dining room table, I clear everything off and cover it with wax paper, after they cool on racks they get placed there waiting to be frosted.

There were four of us, we ended up making a little over 400, we started at 9:00am and ended at 4pm, not bad! We each took 100 plus for ourselves.
We started off drinking coffee as we worked.
But as the day went on we were sipping this! Have you tried? Dumante, it’s a pistachio liqueur, luxurious, smooth and might I add, it went very well with our cucidati taste testing!
I love it so much I made a zabaione with it a couple of days later, a light boozy custard usually made with marsala wine, but I replaced it with Dumante Verdenoce.
Here’s how you make it in case you happen to pick up a bottle.
1/4 cup of Dumante** 1/4 cup granulated sugar** 1/4 cup heavy cream** 3 egg yolks**
Set up a pan of simmering water** place a heat safe bowl on top of the water filled with all the ingredients** whisk the mixture continuously over simmering water, not boiling.** cook until you get a consistency of a thin pudding with the internal temp of 145 degrees** remove and continue whisking until you reach room temperature** if it’s too thick add cream or water.**
I make the same recipe every year for the fig cookies, it’s so similar to my mother-in laws except butter is replaced for the Crisco that she always used, here’s the link.
We never made them in the form of X’s but rather like above. You can change up the nuts, sometimes I use walnuts instead, and in place of orange peels I find a good orange marmalade to work wonderfully, you could also replace whiskey for the rum. As I mentioned before we never put chocolate in ours but it’s optional.
We always glaze them by using confectioners sugar mixed with water or milk, vanilla, and sometimes a little anise extract. Non- perils for sprinkling.
Happy Holiday Baking!

Signature

Tis The Season To Be Baking!

By now you’re probably deep into baking all your favorite holiday treats, pulling out recipes you haven’t made in a year or so. I started my baking last week, placed them in pretty tins ready to give away and share with family and friends. Here is a few of the things I baked so far.

Traditional ANISE BISCOTTI, it’s a huge favorite of my husband and brother-in-law, they love that sweet licorice taste of the anise. These biscotti are perfect for dunking in your coffee or espresso and great to have on hand when someone stops by.

To get that true anise flavor I always use anise oil instead of the extract and along with that I also mix in some anise seed, the oil is really strong so you don’t need very much but the flavor and smell lingers forever (or as long as your biscotti last,) in fact there’s still a lingering aroma of anise inside my house and I finished baking them a week ago!

The dough comes together very quickly it’s the baking that will take you the longest since you have to twice bake them. After first baking your logs you want to make sure they cool down before you cut into them for that second baking otherwise you’ll have a pile of crumbs. I use a heavy serrated knife to cut through mine, but I just recently got a great tip from my sister-in-laws from Florida, they cut their biscotti with an electric knife! Isn’t that a great idea? I’ll be on the lookout for electric knife for next year.
The great thing about biscotti is that they last weeks after you bake them and they taste just as good as the first day, if properly stored. I like to put mine in tin cans layered between wax paper, they stay all nice and crunchy that way!

ANISE BISCOTTI

Ingredients


5 cups unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of softened butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon of anise oil, or 2 tablespoons of anise extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of anise seed
Nuts are optional, I would use 1 cup of sliced almonds for this recipe

Directions
Sift dry ingredients together, including the anise seed. Set aside. In a large bowl with a mixer beat butter, sugar, until fluffy, add eggs one at a time along with the anise oil or extract. Add flour mixture and beat on low until blended. Divide mixture into 4 parts. Each part becomes a log measuring around 2 1/2 inches by 9 or 10 inches long. Place logs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 25 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from the oven and let them cool down on a rack. Carefully cut them 1/2 inch thick, turn each piece on their side and bake on each side for 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Makes around 75 biscotti depending on size.

If you were to ask me what my personal favorite biscotti was I would have to say it would be this FIG and PISTACHIO version. Dried fig with just a hint of orange and anise flavors the crunchy biscotti that is studded with pistachio’s. You can’t beat this with a warm cup of espresso on the side, every bite is so full of flavor! If you like figs you will love these!
I’ve shared them on my blog before, so if you’re craving these crunchy goodies you can check out the recipe here.

Next up is PUFF COOKIES, I make them every year and I always will, they remind me of my mom and aunt. You’re probably familiar with these almost every nationality has their own version of them, also known as Mexican Wedding cookies, but to me and my family they’ll always be Puff Cookies!

Like puffs of snow these rich and buttery cookies just melt in your mouth, great as a gift in a pretty tin or just placed on a platter for any special occasion, either way they will be most appreciated. I also shared these on my blog way back when I first started blogging, you can find the recipe here.

And finally, I always like to put a new cookie into the mix, well new for me anyway. I’ve tasted RICOTTA COOKIES before but I haven’t ever made them myself until I saw Claudia’s version over at Journey of an Italian Cook. Poor thing she lives in Minnesota and just got hit by that big blizzard recently, stuck in the house she’s been cooking and baking up a storm! (no pun intended). I’m sure her family has been very grateful for the snowfall!

These cookies are truly addictive, the taste and the texture is perfect, not to sweet, just right!

Please, go out and get some ricotta, you still have time to make these and add them to your cookie tray, I promise you won’t regret it!

I’m sending you over to Claudia’s blog to get the recipe, the only thing I changed up was that I doubled the lemon zest in the batter, and then for the glaze, instead of 1 teaspoon of vanilla I did 1 teaspoon of lemon extract and more fresh lemon zest. I had a lemon theme going on and it went wonderful with the ricotta flavor, I will make these over and over again and so will you!
Happy Baking, and Buon Appetito!

Signature