Italian Ricotta Christmas Cookies: A Festive Treat for the Holidays

1. Introduction

Italian Ricotta Christmas Cookies are a delightful addition to any festive table. These cookies, characterized by their creamy texture and subtle lemon flavor, originate from Italy’s rich culinary traditions. Perfect for holiday gatherings, these cookies offer a unique blend of sweetness and zest, making them a favorite among both children and adults. The recipe uses simple ingredients but results in a sophisticated flavor that is sure to impress. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or trying your hand at baking for the first time, this recipe is straightforward and rewarding. Let’s embark on this delicious journey and bring a taste of Italy to your Christmas celebrations!

2. Ingredients

For the Cookies:

  • 3 1/2 cups (495g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 15 oz ricotta (whole milk or fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For the Icing:

  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 cups (420g) powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 Tbsp milk

3. Directions

  1. Prepare Dry Ingredients: Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Cream Butter and Sugar: Whip butter, sugar, and lemon zest until fluffy.
  3. Add Ricotta and Wet Ingredients: Blend in ricotta and vanilla, then eggs.
  4. Combine with Flour Mixture: Gradually mix in the flour.

4. How to Prepare

  1. Chill Dough: Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat Oven & Shape Cookies: Preheat to 350°F (175°C). Form dough into balls.
  3. Bake: Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  4. Make Icing: Whisk powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, and milk.
  5. Decorate Cookies: Spoon icing over cooled cookies.

5. Preparation Time

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Chill Time: 2 hours to 2 days
  • Bake Time: 12-14 minutes per batch

6. Servings

  • Yields approximately 48 cookies.

7. FAQs

  1. Can I use part-skim ricotta? Yes, but whole milk ricotta is recommended for richer flavor.
  2. How long can I store these cookies? In an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  3. Can I freeze these cookies? Yes, freeze without icing for up to 3 months.
  4. Is lemon zest necessary? It adds a fresh flavor, but you can omit it.
  5. Can I use a different extract instead of vanilla? Yes, almond extract is a great alternative.

8. Conclusion

Italian Ricotta Christmas Cookies are more than just a sweet treat; they are a symbol of love, tradition, and the warmth of the holiday season. Their soft, pillowy texture, combined with the tangy lemon icing, creates a perfect balance of flavors. These cookies are not only a delicious addition to your holiday baking repertoire but also a way to introduce your loved ones to the exquisite flavors of Italian cuisine. So, don your apron, preheat your oven, and let the aroma of these delightful cookies fill your home with holiday cheer. Happy baking and buon appetito!