These Italian cookies are tender and caky, thanks to the ricotta, but not at all cheesy. They're so moist that other kinds of cookies stored with them will quickly turn limp –- something to keep in mind if you are giving them as part of an assortment.
The recipe makes a lot of cookies; it can easily be halved.
Because we think the holidays demand color, we tinted the glaze a bright, non-traditional blue. You can make it any color -- or leave it plain, which is traditional. Don't store the frosted cookies in an airtight container; the moistness of the cookies will cause the glaze to run.
Make Ahead: The batter can be made a day in advance, covered with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface, and refrigerated. The cookies can be stored in a non-airtight container for 2 weeks.
Servings: 80 1 1/2-inch cookies
- For the cookies
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups flour
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Freshly grated zest of 2 medium lemons (4 to 6 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, or more to taste
- For the glaze
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
- Food coloring (optional)
- Colored sugar sprinkles, for garnish (optional)
For the cookies: Place racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the salt, baking soda and flour in a medium bowl.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the cheese, eggs, lemon zest and rosemary; beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix well. The dough should be slightly moist.
Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until firm, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. The cookies should be golden on the bottom but remain white on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Repeat to use all of the batter.
For the glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and stir in enough lemon juice to make a thick paste. Add the food coloring of your choice, if using, and stir to blend. Thin with enough additional lemon juice to create a glaze that can be brushed onto the cookies. Lightly coat or drizzle the top of each cookie with the glaze and add sprinkles or other decorations, if desired. Allow the frosting to dry completely before storing, loosely covered, for up to 2 weeks.
Adapted from a recipe by Alba Johnson, a cooking instructor, cookbook author and personal chef in Shady Side.
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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