12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 3 ~ Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

It’s the third week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats blog hop hosted by Brenda Thompson from MealPlanningMagic.com.  If you’d like to join us, please fill out the form on Brenda’s blog.

Last week I wrote about the Pizzelle cookie which is a Christmas a tradition in my family.  This week I’m making a cookie that has been a tradition in my brother-in-law’s family.  My sister’s husband’s family makes this cookie during Christmas and other holidays all year long.  When my sister began making them and bringing them to family gatherings, we found that we loved them and then added them to our Christmas cookie list.  Once I began making these cookies regularly, I’ve developed a method for forming and baking the cookies.

These cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth quality.  They are light and slightly sweet which is a perfect foil for the sweet frosting.  Being small and bite-size makes them easy to pop in your mouth and, trust me, you won’t be able to stop at just one.  Small cookies don’t really have any calories do they?

One recipe makes a lot of cookies but since they’re small, I don’t see this as a problem.  I give these away to friends and family.  If I’m visiting, I bring along a variety of cookies and these are always included.


The dough is pretty easy to mix but handling the dough is needs some show and tell.  After the dough is chilled, cut the dough into quarters.

Cut thin slices from the dough currently being used, similar to french fries.

Rounding the edges with your fingertips.

Cut the dough into three inch strips.

Begin creating the vertical cork screw.

Bring the dough around.

Finish the cork screw.

Ready for the oven.

Hot out of the oven.

Barely golden on the bottom.

Frosted deliciousness.

Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

Yield:  190 – 200 cookies                  Cook Time:  10 minutes


Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 pound or 2 sticks butter (softened or melted – I melt the butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups flour plus some additional for dusting while forming the cookies


  • 1/4 pound or 1 stick butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 2 pound box or 3 1/3 – 4 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk (after adding 1 1/2 tablespoons, add remaining milk in small increments)
  • Red and green food coloring, optional


Step 1:  For the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Step 2:  With an electric mixer cream butter, sugar and vanilla together.  Stir in the baking powder and 4 cups of flour until combined.  Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for easier handling; at least 4 1/2 hours (I usually chill overnight).

Step 3:  Once the dough has chilled long enough, remove it from the refrigerator and cut it in quarters with three parallel cuts.  Remove a quarter of the dough out of the refrigerator at a time to form the cookies, so the dough doesn’t get too soft and sticky.  Place the remaining dough into the refrigerator until ready to shape the next quarter batch.

Step 4:  Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour.  Place the quarter of dough removed from the refrigerator on the work surface and cut a thin slice (about 1/4 inch thick); then cut the slice into french fry shapes.  Break the pieces of dough into about three inch lengths and round the edges longways with your fingertips so the three inch lengths look like they were rolled.  Twist the dough into a vertical corkscrew curl and place on the baking sheet.  Place each cookie about a half inch apart.  Repeat until all the dough is finished from the quarter batch removed from the refrigerator.

Step 5:  Repeat step 4 for the remaining three quarters of dough until all the dough has been shaped into cookies.  Bake cookies for 10 minutes, one cookie sheet at a time.  When done, the cookies should be set and the bottoms should show barely a hint of golden color.  Let cool completely.

Step 6:  For the frosting, mix the butter, sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk together in a medium bowl.  Add the remaining tablespoon of milk in small increments as necessary to reach a creamy but not runny consistency.

Step 7:  For festive colors divide frosting into batches.  Stir in drops of red food coloring into one batch until the desired shade is reached.  Place a dollop of frosting on each cookie.  Repeat with green food coloring.

Step 8:  Let frosting dry for several hours or overnight and then store in an airtight container.

Tips:  If the entire recipe yields too many cookies for you the recipe can easily be cut in half.  Handling the dough to much can make the cookies tough.  Cooking them too long can make them dry.  If some of the cookies are stuck together during baking, this will just make it easier to frost – they can be broken apart after the frosting dries.

Storing:  Store cookies in a sealed plastic container.  The cookies are fine for several days when stored this way.

Variations:  After chilling, you can roll the dough and use cookie cutters to shape the cookies.


Adapted from my brother-in-law’s family recipe.

Have a look at the other great cookies in the blog hop by clicking on the Linky Tools link below.

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop

Week 3, October 11, 2012

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23 thoughts on “12 Weeks of Christmas Treats ~ Week 3 ~ Phil’s Grandmother’s Italian Cookies

  1. Your tips are fabulous and so are the cookies. Thanks for stopping by our Happy Holidays Link Party – be sure to join us again this week (beginning on Saturday at 7 pm ET) and every week through the holidays.

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