21 December 2010

Italian Sprinkle Cookies

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been so busy with baking Christmas cookies that I’ve neglected my intention of posting about some of them.  On the day of the big December storm (storm - part 1, Dec. 11th) I spent the entire day in the kitchen and did manage to tweet some pictures and comments about my activities. A couple of friends asked specifically for this recipe, so I thought I’d better get it written up to share. Better late than never, right?

 I’ve seen recipes for these Italian Sprinkle Cookies in numerous cookbooks and magazines over the years and have always been intrigued by them. The comments that accompany the recipe always have a variation on the theme of “they take some effort, but are worth it.” I didn’t feel that they were an inordinate amount of work, but they do necessitate some good timing – get those sprinkles on the top of the cookies quickly or they won’t stick. That glaze dries fast! 

The cookies have a mild flavor that intensifies as they sit, which I believe is why the instructions tell you to let them rest for 24 hours before storing them. I did a taste test as soon as they were cool and wasn't too impressed. When I tasted them again the following day the flavor had improved and deepened dramatically. They've got a simple, uncomplicated flavor.

This particular version of the recipe comes from Taste of Home’s Christmas Cookies (2003) pull-out recipe card book, one of those little gems found at grocery store cash register counters everywhere. It was a great purchase, as I’ve made and enjoyed numerous treats from it…

Hope you enjoy these too!

For some reason I can't change the orientation of the picture, so tip your head to the right...

Italian Sprinkle Cookies

6 eggs
5 cups flour
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp + 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup shortening, melted
1 Tbsp almond extract
1-1/2 tsp lemon extract

1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-3/4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
Colored sprinkles

Using a heavy-duty/stand electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs until light and foamy, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and baking powder; gradually add shortening and extracts until a bead-like texture forms.  Gradually add beaten eggs. (Note: dough will be stiff and sticky, and the flower/shortening beads will not all dissolve or incorporate into the dough – think of it much like a pie crust where these will become flaky pockets in the finished product.)

Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls and place on ungreased, parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until the bottoms just begin to brown slightly (the tops should not brown though).

To make glaze, combine milk and extracts in a large bowl. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.

As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, immerse them two or three at a time into the glaze; remove with a slotted spoon and place on wire rack to drain and cool. Quickly, while glaze is still wet, top with sprinkles.

Let dry 24 hours before storing in airtight containers.  Makes about 9 dozen cookies.

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