Grandma’s Italian Christmas Cookies Recipe Makes Holiday Spirits Bright by Ann Marie Patitucci
As a kid I didn’t appreciate shortbread the way I do now. I used to be a chocoholic, and still am, but that doesn’t mean I can’t branch out a little! I think I began to enjoy shortbread during my study abroad experience in England in 1996, and have grown to love it in the years since.
This delicious Italian Christmas cookies recipe has a buttery shortbread flavor and a creamy and sweet (but not too sweet) icing, topped with festive sprinkles. They’re perfect for your holiday cookie platter. They remind me of the homemade cookies on holiday trays that were passed around by Italian grandmothers and great-grandmothers when I was a kid.
Great news: Shortbread is easier to make than I anticipated, so much so that this is a great cookie recipe to bake with little ones at the holidays. Bonus: This is a delicious dessert recipe to make ahead of time. The cookie dough can be whipped up in advance and then sliced and baked when convenient. You can refrigerate the dough for up to a week or freeze it for even longer. This is great for party or holiday dinner prep! When hosting a holiday dinner or party, I love to have some make-ahead options so I don’t have to do everything all at once.
Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 15 minutes to chill
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: Makes about 3 dozen
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sprinkles
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 - 4 tablespoons cream or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Here’s how to make it:
- Add butter, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extract to the bowl of a large food processor. Process until smooth, using about eight 1-second pulses. Add flour and pulse until mixture looks chunky and crumbly, using about six 1-second pulses.
- Roll the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a rough ball. Cut ball in half and form each piece of dough into a long log, about 7 1/2 to 8 inches. Wrap each log in plastic wrap tightly and freeze for 30 minutes to one hour (or refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to a week). Chilling is essential for this recipe. It will help the cookies keep their shape. Without chilling, they will likely flatten.
- Place rack in center position of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one log of dough from the freezer or refrigerator. Cut the dough into slices, about 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick, rolling the log every few slices to maintain the cookies’ round shape. Arrange cookies on lined baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until cookies just barely turn a light golden color around the edges. Cool cookies on baking sheets.
- Repeat with the second log of cookie dough. Once cookies are completely cool, make the icing: Whisk all icing ingredients together. Spread over each cookie and add sprinkles. Allow the icing to set before serving. Store cookies in an airtight container.
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