soft and crumbly cookies
Here’s another recipe that I have been wanting to make forever – Italian wedding cookies! Honestly, I don’t know what the real name is for these cookies since I don’t think they originate from my mom’s region in Italy.Regardless, I finally made a batch, and these cookies are soooo good. Definitely a keeper! They are soft, almost like a cross between a cake cookie and a traditional crispy cookie.
Growing up, it seemed that everyone’s mom or grandmother made a version of these cookies. They go by a number of different names. Italian wedding cookies, Italian christmas cookies, or Anise cookies (…but mine are almond flavored.) Sometimes, when the baker would add too much flour, these cookies would taste quiet dry – but those were good for dunking in coffee!
As a kid, I did not like anise-flavoring. My mom would make pizzelles the traditional way with anise as the flavoring and I’d always beg her to make them vanilla or lemon flavored instead. She eventually came around:) But this is a very versatile recipe as far as flavorings go – feel free to substitute the almond or anise with vanilla, lemon, orange, or whatever flavoring appeals to you.
Decorating these cookies
The traditional way to decorate these is to top them with a simple drizzle of frosting and then add the rainbow non-pareils, which are usually widely available at the grocery store (at least they are around here).
how to keep these cookies in the ball-like shape during baking
When making this cookie, it’s important to refrigerate them for at least an hour in order for the cookie to bake in its characteristic tall shape. If you don’t refrigerate, they will come out flatter, more like a traditional drop cookie. Still good, but I love how they bake up if you refrigerate the dough.
Please note that this dough is a little sticky. I know everyone’s definition of “a little” can vary but here is a photo of the mixed dough; hope this helps to visualize the finished dough. Here you can see that I didn’t soften the butter too much for this particular batch:
Tips to Prevent the Sprinkles from Bleeding into the Icing:
I asked a Facebook group of fellow Italian bakers for feedback on how to prevent bleeding of colors from the sprinkles into the white icing. I have not ever had this problem, but a reader has to I explored and got the following suggestions:
- Omit the sprinkles
- Ensure cookies are cool before icing and sprinkling (since heat will cause icing and sprinkles to run)
- Don’t ice the cookies until the day you need them
- Make sure icing consistency is thick and not runny or thin
- Roll in confectionary (powdered) sugar instead of icing and sprinkles
- Make sure you use milk, not water to make the icing
- Use pastel colors, they don’t run/bleed as much
- Let the icing set a tiny bit before adding the sprinkles
- Avoid serving or frosting them on a humid day
Like these cookies? Try other popular Italian cookies:
italian wedding cookies (almond or anise flavored)
For the cookie dough:
- 2 1/4 cups flour (all purpose)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened (DO NOT MELT THE BUTTER (8 tablespoons))
- 1.5 teaspoons almond extract (or anise [licorice flavor])
To make the frosting:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (or anise extract)
- 4 tbsp non-pareils or sprinkles
To make the cookie dough
- Mix the baking powder, salt, and flour in a small bowl and set aside
- Using a electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, butter, and extract on medium speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy
- Add the flour/baking powder and combine slowly just until mixed.
- Using a tablespoon, roll the dough into balls and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F, and then bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Mix the ingredients for the frosting, adding the milk one tablespoon at a time
- I prefer to use a teaspoon and pour a bit of frosting over the cooled cookies but some like to dunk their cookies in the frosting to frost
- Make sure that the cookies are completely cooled before frosting otherwise, the frosting will just drip off
- Add sprinkles/non-pareils while the frosting is still wet or they won't stick. I usually frost a few at a time and then decorate so the frosting doesn't dry before I have a chance to decorate