Italian wedding cookies look and sound so fancy, but they’re easier to make than you think.
If simple and sophisticated is what you’re looking for, this dessert is for you. Although the recipes for these cookies vary from one to another, they all have one thing in common.
Their incredible melt-in-your-mouth texture.
All Italian wedding cookies are wonderfully soft, buttery, crumbly, and nutty. In short, they’re downright addictive.
And don’t feel like you only need to serve or eat them at a wedding. Their simplicity makes them the perfect cookie treat for practically any occasion.
So, put on your apron, and let’s get to it.
Italian Wedding Cookies Recipe
Called anginetti or ancinetti, Italian wedding cookies are soft, pillowy shortbread cookies.
They’re also light and airy, despite being made primarily from almonds and butter.
Traditionally, chefs flavor the cookies with anise. They then cover them in a sugar glaze and dress them up with colored nonpareils.
However, this version’s flavor mostly comes from almonds, butter, and vanilla. It’s very light and not overly sweet.
They’re also frosted with powdered sugar to create a magnificent snowball look. Plus, I love how the powdered sugar coating melts in your mouth.
The shortbread cookies have a wonderful texture, as well. They crumble like sand and melt as you chew.
They’re so heavenly that they’re mostly reserved for weddings and special occasions.
But because they’re such a breeze to make, there’s no need to wait for a holiday. Just whip them up anytime.
Most of what you’ll need for these cookies are common pantry staples. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Butter. Unsalted butter works best for this recipe because you’ll add extra salt later.
- Powdered sugar. You’ll add powdered sugar to the batter to sweeten it. You’ll also use it to coat the cookies once they’re ready. (Note: Powdered sugar and confectioners’ sugar are the same.)
- Salt. Salt is a simple flavor enhancer.
- Finely ground almonds. These make up the majority of the batter. They give the cookies their light, nutty taste and chewy texture.
- Vanilla extract. For extra warmth and flavor.
- Flour. Regular all-purpose flour works fine for these cookies.
How to Make Italian Wedding Cookies
Follow these steps to make your Italian wedding cookies:
1. Preheat. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make the batter. Start by using an electric mixer at medium speed to beat the butter. As the butter softens, gradually add 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and the salt.
Continue to beat the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes. Then, add the ground almonds and vanilla. Finally, use a spatula to mix in the sifted flour. Stir gently, but ensure everything is well mixed.
3. Shape and bake. Shape the cookie dough into teaspoon-sized balls. Then, transfer them to a cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes or until they’re a pale yellow to light tan color.
4. Cool and coat. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.
Then, pour the remaining powdered sugar into a bowl and roll each cookie in the sugar. Roll them until they are well-coated on all sides.
Serve and enjoy!
Tips for Making the Best Cookies
Keep these tips in mind when making your Italian wedding cookies:
- Toast the almonds beforehand. For a nuttier flavor, place the almonds on a baking sheet. Then, pop them into a 325-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Wait for them to cool for 10 minutes before grinding. If you don’t like the added effort, just get store-bought toasted almonds.
- Refrigerate the cookie dough. When you first make the dough, it’ll be very sticky. That makes it hard to work into balls. Put the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes before trying to shape it. Chilled dough is much easier to work with.
- Let the butter soften slightly before use. Take the butter out of the fridge 10 minutes before use. If you forget, just pop it in the microwave in 15-second increments until softened, but not warm.
- Use a stand or electric mixer. The dough can be tough to work with at first, so electric mixers make the most sense. However, it’s best to add the flour with a spatula to keep from overmixing.
- Don’t grease the cookies sheets. Doing so will result in spreading. The cookies have a lot of butter in them, so you don’t really need to worry about them sticking to the pan. If you want to be sure, you can line your pan with parchment paper, or use a silicone mat.
- Use an ice cream scoop to get uniform cookie sizes. The diameter shouldn’t go over 1 inch. Otherwise, the cookies will be underbaked in the middle.
- Don’t let the cookies touch. If they do, they’ll lose their shape.
- Double coat the cookies in sugar. Roll them once as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. Then, once they cool completely, roll them in sugar again. This will create that elegant snowball look.
- Sift the sugar first. Powdered sugar can be clumpy. Sifting it will remove any small “rocks”, so they don’t end up in the dough.
- Don’t over-bake. You won’t want a golden-brown finish for these treats. Fifteen to 20 minutes are more than enough.
- Use different nuts. Try the recipe with walnuts, macadamias, pistachios, pecans, or hazelnuts. Just be sure to ground them up finely beforehand.
- Add some chocolate. Mix your favorite chocolate chips in with the battery for a deliciously rich chocolate flavor.
- Use almond extract instead of vanilla. Doing so will give you a richer, nuttier flavor. It’s strong, though, so don’t overdo it.
- Make them vegan-friendly. Use vegan butter instead of regular butter.
- Give them a Christmasy flair. Roll them in crushed candy canes instead of powdered sugar. You can also add crushed peppermints to the batter. You can add pumpkin spice or cinnamon for a more fall-like flavor.
- Make them the traditional way. Coat the cookies in vanilla glaze and top them with rainbow sprinkles. To make the glaze, whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cup warm milk, 1 teaspoon almond extract, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Be sure to glaze the cookies immediately after removing them from the oven. Add the sprinkles once the glaze cools.
How to Store Italian Wedding Cookies
Store leftovers in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. You can keep them for up to a week in the fridge, but their texture may change.
Finally, you can freeze the cookies for a longer shelf-life of up to 3 months. Follow these instructions:
- Place them on a baking sheet.
- Freeze for 2-3 hours or until rock-solid.
- Transfer them into a freezer-safe bag.
- Squeeze out as much air as possible.
- Seal, date, and label the bag.
If the cookies are already baked, let them thaw at room temperature before eating them.
If they are pre-baked, you can bake them straight from the freezer. Just add 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.
More Cookie Recipes You’ll Love
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Gumdrop Cookies
- Chocolate Icebox Cookies
- Lemon Cake Mix Cookies
- Cowboy Cookies
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