Italian Christmas Cookies (Angeletti)
Italian Christmas Cookies (Angeletti) is another great recipe from my Mother’s cousin Shirley, pictured here with her daughter Jennifer (Jenny).
Italian Christmas Cookies (sometimes referred to as Italian Sprinkle Cookies or Angeletti) are probably the most recognized Italian cookie out there, with its tender little domed cookie ball, glaze and nonpareils. You will find these cookies on any Italian Sweet Table, at weddings, funerals or other special occasions. A classic cookie that is perfect for the holidays.
There are so many versions of this cookie that it was difficult to find its origin. It seems to have originated from Southern Italy, but I really was not able to find out anything past that. One thing is certain, most Italian households seem to have their own family recipe.
The flavoring for this cookie varies from one recipe to the next. The dozens of recipes that I checked had used one of the following flavors:
- Vanilla/Anise (some recipes use Galliano for a similar flavor)
- Lemon with Ricotta added
Our family recipe uses vanilla and lemon with a lemon glaze.
The shape also seems to vary from a round, dome style cookie to round flatter cookies, while others form it into a knot. The height is probably due to whether they used shortening or butter. Butter will produce a flatter cookie as they spread more. However, cookies made with butter will have a nice butter flavor. Additionally, recipes made with butter typically also have baking powder to get some rise to the cookie.
Cookies made with shortening will bake up taller, hence the dome in this cookie. They will also be more tender, but not as flavorful, so you need to add extract, zests and/or spices to pump up the flavor.
Then there is the issue of nonpareils. Some recipes use both glaze and nonpareils while others only glaze the top of this cookie. If you are adding nonpareils, make sure you keep the glaze on the thicker side or the sprinkles will bleed into the glaze or slide off. You can use Christmas colors (red, green and white nonpareils) or rainbow nonpareils. I had rainbow nonpareils in the house, so that is what I used this time.
Any way you make these Italian Christmas Cookies, they are festive little pillows of happiness.
NOTE: I haven’t made these cookies for a long time. I just dipped the cookies into the glaze and then the nonpareils. After I was done, I remembered I used to just sprinkle the nonpareils on, so there typically isn’t as many nonpareils on the cookies as I have shown in the photos.
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Italian Christmas Cookies
Traditional Italian Cookies - Soft, little domed cookies topped with a lemon glaze and nonpareils. A perfect cookie for any occasion.
- 1 cup Crisco shortening
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 box confectioners sugar
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- Nonpareils (rainbow or red/green/white)
- Step 1 Cream together the Crisco shortening and sugar.
- Step 2 Add the eggs, vanilla bean paste (or extract), lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well.
- Step 3 Add the milk and flour, alternating between the two. Mix until everything is incorporated, but do not over mix.
- Step 4 Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Step 5 Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Form cookie dough into small balls.
- Step 6 Place dough balls on to a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
- Step 7 Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 18 to 19 minutes, or till the bottoms are lightly brown and the tops are set. Let cool.
- Step 8 Make the glaze. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and add the nonpareils. Let Dry.
- Step 9 Store in a cookie tin.