Sunday, December 22, 2013

Italian Sprinkle Cookies

Looking for a classic delicious cookie recipe to make for the holidays?  This is my Go To recipe!  This came to me a few years ago from my good friend Karen Tran.  She is a an avid Foodie like me (I said avid, not rabid...well, she's avid, I'm probably rabid!)!  One day we were talking about our favorite cookies to make and devour at the holidays.  I was telling her one of my favorites were these Italian domes coated in icing and covered with sprinkles.  I was introduced to them in my teens and got them every year when I lived in Boston.  Since moving to California I had not seen them and did not have a recipe for them.  A few days later, I received a few recipes in the mail, including my favorite for these Italian Sprinkle Cookies she had retrieved from the Epicurious website many moons ago!  Thank you Karen!!!!

You can totally make these by yourself but these are also the perfect cookies to make if you have little helpers in the kitchen (and when I say little, I'm referring to children, or your 5'3" wife :-) ), particularly for the coating and sprinkling process!
First preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Next drop 6 extra large eggs  into bowl of electric mixer (this is one of the times I particularly love my Kitchen Aid!).  Beat eggs on high for about 5 minutes until light and foamy, then set bowl aside.  The left side picture is how they start out and the right picture shows what it looks like after 5 minutes.
In another large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  In a small pan, melt the shortening and then remove from heat.  Then add the extracts to the shortening.  BE CAREFUL, it will splatter a bit which is why you do it off the heat!
Then add the shortening/extract blend to the powdered mixture.  At this point you are intoxicated with the incredible scents of the extracts!  The combination almost smells like anise and my mouth is starting to water... and I'm slowly starting to talk more with my hands... and my words are starting to have an Italian accent to them! 
Mix until it gets coarse and crumbly like pictured above.
Gradually add the beaten eggs to the bowl and mix by hand.
This is when you work those biceps a bit as the dough will be stiff.
Then, I use a small ice scream scoop to drop them onto the ungreased cookie sheet.  It's the cleanest way to go about it and I love the shape and size they make.
Bake for about 13 minutes.  The tops should be slightly firm (not soft to the touch) but will not brown so be careful not to overcook!  The bottoms will brown slightly.  When I make these I keep a rotation going with a second cookie sheet ready to throw in the oven so I can keep the process moving.
While cookies are cooking, it's time to make the icing of the gods!  Combine the milk and extracts in a medium size bowl.
Add the powdered sugar....
Whisk thoroughly until there are no lumps and then set aside.  I keep the whisk near by in case you need to mix it smooth again in between batches...or in case my favorite song comes on and I need an instant microphone...don't judge, I'm good!
Best to get your ducks in a row before the first batch comes out so you can move quickly.  Get your sprinkles, icing, and a cookie rack placed over a cookie sheet ready.
When the first batch comes out, it's time to take a dunk in the icing pool!  I get working on them as soon as they come out of the oven, and throw my next batch in to start cooking, while I finish the process with the first batch.  Are you still with me?  Ok, moving on....invert the tops of the cookies directly into the glaze bath and then place top side up on the cookie rack.  The excess icing will drip off onto the cookie sheet below.  If you have a helper, they can immediately start adding the sprinkles as you continue on the dunking process.  If it's just you making these, I recommend dunking only a few at a time and then adding sprinkles immediately.  The icing starts drying quickly and if you move too slow the sprinkles just bounce off cookie and don't adhere, bad sprinkles!
Look at these good little sprinkles adhering to the icing of the gods!  Once done, I let these sit on the rack while I wait for the next batch to come out of the oven.  When the next batch come out, I remove the finished cookies and place them directly into my mouth, I mean, onto a serving platter and go through the next steps with the next batch.
These are the finished product!  They are yummy right away but honestly BEST at least a day later.  Let air dry 24 hours before storing in airtight container.  These are fantastic in the morning with coffee, after dinner with a glass of red wine, or anytime with a glass of iced cold milk.  These are the ultimate Christmas cookies!  Have 6 or 7 for me!!!

ITALIAN SPRINKLE COOKIES RECIPE
6 XL eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
2 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tablespoons PLUS 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup shortening, melted
1 tablespoon almond extract (yes, that was tablespoon!)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

Glaze
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lb confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

Colored sprinkles (about 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Next drop 6 extra large eggs  into bowl of electric mixer.  Beat eggs on high for about 5 minutes until light and foamy, then set bowl aside.

In another large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  In a small pan, melt the shortening and then remove from heat.  Then add the extracts to the shortening.  BE CAREFUL, it will splatter a bit which is why you do it off the heat! 

Add the shortening/extract blend to the powdered mixture.  Mix until it gets coarse and crumbly.  Gradually add the beaten eggs to the bowl and mix by hand. 

Use a small ice scream scoop to drop them onto the ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 13 minutes.  The tops should be slightly firm (not soft to the touch) but will not brown so be careful not to overcook!  The bottoms will brown slightly.  When I make these I keep a rotation going with a second cookie sheet ready to throw in the oven so I can keep the process moving.

In the meantime, make the glaze.  Combine the milk and extracts in a medium size bowl. Add the powdered sugar and whisk thoroughly until there are no lumps and then set aside.  Get your sprinkles, icing, and a cookie rack placed over a cookie sheet ready so you can finish topping process when cookies are finished baking.

When cookies are done cooking, invert the tops of the cookies one by one directly into the glaze bath and then place top side up on the cookie rack.  The excess icing will drip off onto the cookie sheet below.  Then top with the sprinkles quickly so they adhere to the icing.  You need to move quickly on this process as the icing starts to set quickly and if you wait too long the sprinkles will just bounce off instead of adhering. 

Finish process with the rest of the cookies and place on serving dish when done.  Let air dry for 24 hours before storing in an airtight container.  Last step, devour all cookies!!!



 






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