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Traditional Italian Christmas Cookies best served with espresso

by Elvira Di Gesu - Iarusso November 12, 2017

Traditional Italian Christmas Cookies best served with espresso

Most Italians will tell you their favorite holiday is Christmas. Why?  Because it has all the important elements for them: family, food, and festivities. 

The holidays actually start in early December when the matriarchs of the family start the Christmas baking. They gather in each others' homes to bake the traditional cookies and sweets: cannoli, amaretti, pizzelle and more. 

Here are some of my family favorites: Amaretti and Pizzelle

Amaretti Cookies 

Amaretti cookies are crunchy small Italian cookies with a lovely almond flavor. They are an ideal gluten-free cookie because the recipe is free of flour and instead uses ground almonds or almond flour.

Preheat oven to  350° F.



2 pounds of almonds finely ground

2  (8 oz)  cups of white sugar

4 large eggs

1 small bottle of pure almond extract (1. 5 oz)

1 small bottle of pur vanilla extract (1.5 oz)

1 teaspoon of cocoa

Candied fruit (cherries, red and green, cut in half) optional for garnish

Whole almond – optional for garnish


Beat eggs with sugar for 15 to 20 minutes, until small bublles begin to form.

Add the almond and vanilla extract  along with the teaspoon of cocoa and continue to beat all together for another 5 minutes.

Add ground almonds.

You should knead by hand at this point.

Shape the dough into small balls.  (Smaller than the size of a golf ball).

Roll in white sugar.

Place on cookie sheet one inch apart.

Place candied cherry half or almond on top for decoration.


Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  


Pizzelle are traditional  Italian waffle style cookies.  You will need a pizzelle iron to make these. Some Italian families have a customized iron with a family symbol or coat of arms decoration on it to distinguish their pizzelle from others.

Pizzelle- Italian Waffle Style Cookies


6 eggs

12 tbsp. of sugar

12. tbsp. of sunflower oil

Zest of one lemon

1 pkge of sugared vanilla

Anise seeds ( You can also add 1 oz. of anise flavored liqeur, like Sambuca to intensify the anise flavor.)

2. 25 cups of flour


 Beat eggs until foamy,  Add oil, sugar, lemon and vanilla.  Add flour at the end.

Ensure your pizzelle iron is hot.  

Scoop a small amount of batter into the center of the iron.  Cook until golden.  These can be shaped into cups by putting them onto the bottom of an upside glass. Once they harden, they will keep their shape.





Elvira Di Gesu - Iarusso
Elvira Di Gesu - Iarusso

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