Italian Wedding Cookies

About this dish

  • Serves: 20 or more
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Method: oven

Every Christmas, my family makes several kinds of cookies to give to our friends and family. The cookies are set on a plate, sprinkled with a dose of holiday-colored Hershey Kisses, and wrapped in clear plastic wrap, laid flat under the plate and gathered up by a bow on top. Curly-ribbon is used for the knot and bow.

This kind of cookie is the hardest and takes the longest to make, because they’re individually rolled-out and individually iced. But they’re worth it!

They’re also called filled cookies because my grandmother, Nonni, likes to roll out a flat layer and make mini pastry shells filled with preserves (pineapple mixed with coconut), or roll them like folded danish over mincemeat. I like the ‘plain’ ones, without the filling.

They’re also traditional for Italian weddings. For my brother Ralph’s wedding to my sister-in-law Suzanne (not to be confused with my sister, also named Suzanne), my mother and Nonni made a few batches all using white jimmies only (sprinkles).

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 6 eggs (medium) (large or extra large won’t work; the ratios will be off. If that’s all you have, use 5 with a little water, or mix them up and dump a little)
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 C corn oil (you’ll need extra for your hands later)
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 oz rum or whiskey (blends with the vanilla for a nice taste that doesn’t have an overpowering flavor – *light* rum works best)
  • 5-6 C flour (5+ cups, as (takes 6 for me, most of the time, needed) but it depends on the humidity, etc)

Icing:

  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 2 t butter (sliver it while it’s cold, VERY thin, so it will blend in, but not require melting)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 oz rum or whiskey (as above, *ligth* rum works best) water, as needed (cold. use milk if cookies will be eaten within a few weeks, use water if freezing, to avoid ‘stale’ aftertaste)
  • jimmies (sprinkles) (or granulated colored sugar, which I like but my mother says is rough on people with dental work!)

Instructions

Beat eggs and sugar until light (overblend!). Add vanilla, oil, salt. Add flour slowly until the dough ‘balls’ (make it the consistency of soft PlayDough). Cover the dough while you cut off chunks and roll them out, about the diameter of a thick crayon. Dab your hands in oil to keep the dough from sticking.

Shape into rings (1.5-2″ dia), twists (like bread twists, about 3″ long), or whatever shape with similar baking properties. Cook on greased (or spray with oil) cookie sheet at 375 until done (light gold, NOT brown). Typically takes 12 minutes. Makes 5 trays of cookies.

Let cool/dry **completely** before icing.

ICING

Place powdered sugar in a bowl. Add water/milk **slowly* until a thick paste forms. Add vanilla and rum. Blend in butter slivers. Add more liquid until icing is ‘spreadable’ – NOT runny, but more like thick jam.

Ice the tops only of the cookies, sprinkle with jimmies (which is what sprinkles are called in Philly).

Let dry completely (overnight at least). Pack covered (otherwise the cookies dry and get like rocks). These can be frozen – pack so the jimmies aren’t crushed.