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Italian Christmas Cookies

Can you imagine the holiday season without loads of sweet treats? When I was little we would visit my aunt’s house at holiday time and she would have a table covered in cookies. They were in every shape, size, and color imaginable. I never saw so many cookies in one place. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of her recipes. I love baking — and especially eating — Christmas cookies. I searched the Web for Italian Christmas cookie recipes and found all kinds of complex concoctions. In the end I chose to keep it simple and make this versatile recipe that is sort of a combination of butter cookies and sugar cookies.

They are easy to make, taste delicious, and look pretty as a picture. It’s a basic recipe, so follow it as is, or have fun experimenting with flavors and designs. I hope you enjoy these Italian Christmas cookies and add them to your holiday repertoire.

Italian Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Leave it ungreased.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

A third at a time add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture and beat together.

Spoon a small amount into your hand and roll into a ball. (About the size of a melon baller.)

Place the dough balls evenly in rows leaving enough room for them to spread.

Bake until the edges turn slightly brown, about 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

For the icing

Ingredients:
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Gel food coloring and sprinkles, optional

In a small bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, vanilla and confectioners sugar until smooth.

Separate into two small bowls. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring to each bowl and stir until blended. I used red in one bowl and green in the other. The icing will be thin and runny.

Arrange the cooled cookies on a piece of parchment or wax paper, something to catch the spillover.

Drizzle the icing over the cookies and allow it to spread. Don’t worry about being neat. The icing will spill over the sides. Add sprinkles.

When the icing sets, arrange cookies on a plate and enjoy.

I hope you try these Italian Christmas cookies. They are so easy and fun to make. They go really well with a cup of tea or Italian coffee. Yum!

You can see all of the steps in order below. Click any of the pictures to pop the photo gallery.

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