Dreaming of a White Christmas
When I tell you my high school friend Silvia is a whiz in the kitchen, I speak the truth. After seeing one of her recent posts on Facebook, I was inspired to share her Italian ricotta cookie recipe with you. Silvia has me dreaming of a white Christmas. No, not one with sleigh bells in the snow…but a Christmas filled with that Sicilian staple, ricotta.
Lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti…I’ve never met one I’d turn down. You’d think I was Italian. I’m not, but I am making lasagna for our Christmas dinner.
If ricotta is an ingredient in something sweet, then I have no willpower whatsoever, and can’t say no to things like cannoli or ricotta cookies. And since I have two large containers of ricotta in the fridge, I see a large platter of ricotta cookies in the near future.
The original recipe was printed in The New York Times. Classycooking.com adapted it…and then Silvia tweaked Classycooking.com’s take on Italian ricotta cookies.
According to Cookingclassy.com:
Italian ricotta cookies are soft and tender, cake-like cookies with a sweet and simple icing. They have a light lemon flavor and plenty of moisture thanks to the rich ricotta. They’re a holiday classic and such a fun recipe to try if you’ve never made them.
(Classycooking.com had me at lemon flavor and rich ricotta! This recipe makes 60 cookies, which is good because I’ll have to share them…and because my mantra is: If one is good, two are definitely better.)
The ricotta cookie dough can be made two days in advance so it’s a great make-ahead recipe.
They’re so good that you can never stop at just one. Plus, it makes a huge batch of cookies so they’re great for celebrations and gifting. You’ll love their melt-in-your-mouth texture and that sweet and simple icing finish.
And if you want a little contrast, finish them with crunchy sugar sprinkles which also add a pretty and festive pop of color.
- Prep: 30 minutes
- Cook: 50 minutes
- Ready in: 1 hour 20 minutes
- 3 1/2 cups (495g) all-purpose flour*
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder**
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 15 oz ricotta, whole milk or fresh (1 3/4 cups)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted), melted
- 3 1/2 cups (420g) powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 - 6 tbsp milk
For the cookies
In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt for 20 seconds and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy (scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally throughout the entire mixing process).
Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract then blend in eggs one at a time. Set mixer on low speed and slowly add in flour mixture and mix just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees during the last 20 minutes of dough chilling.
Scoop chilled dough out 1 tbsp at a time and shape into balls (if it’s too sticky just drop onto the cookie sheet using two spoons), drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (don’t use dark baking sheets).
Bake in preheated oven until set, 12 – 14 minutes (bottoms will be lightly golden brown). Cool on a baking sheet for several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool, spoon icing over cookies and return to a wire rack; immediately add sprinkles if using.
Allow icing to set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container preferably in a single layer and preferably store in the fridge (bring to room temperature before serving).
For the glaze
In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, lemon juice or almond extract, vanilla and 4 tbsp milk until smooth.
Add in more milk 1 tsp at a time to thin as needed (you don’t want it to be very thin, it should be quite a bit thicker than a doughnut glaze).
Recipe notes from Cooking Classy
*Scoop flour directly from the container using a measuring cup and level the top using a butter knife.
Don’t whisk or sift before measuring and don’t spoon into a cup. The best option is to use a kitchen scale. I highly recommend investing in one if you don’t already have one. I always use mine when baking.
**Cookies previously listed using 2 tsp baking soda, but a few have had issues with cookies rising so the recipe has been improved to use baking powder instead.
Recipe notes from Silvia
- You can tweak the recipe since every oven is different.
- You can play with the extract that you use.
- I used lemon zest in the cookie batter and fresh lemon juice in the glaze. The recipe says you can substitute almond or vanilla extract in the glaze.
- When I make the glaze, I just use the amount of powdered sugar and milk that the recipe calls for and top with grated lemon zest. I don’t add butter, vanilla, etc.
- I would make the glaze a touch thicker than the way it came out. If it’s a bit thicker, you can drop some colored sprinkles on the cookies. I think if the glaze is thinner, the sprinkles will bleed. The glaze won’t stick and will run off of the cookie. Try one cookie and see how it turns out.
What’s your favorite Christmas treat to make? Do you give homemade baked goods as Christmas gifts?
Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.