Anginetti Italian Lemon Cookies

It is not the holidays in an Italian household without the cookies! Each year, I make cookies for Christmas. There are always the almond biscotti and pizzelles, and each year I’ve been trying to find a new cookie recipe. We’ve made amaretti, Italian wedding cookies, and a lost-and-found clothespin cookie. This year, when searching for a new cookie to add to the repertoire, I enter the term “Italian cookies” in the Google search bar and the number one response (as well as the next 10 or 12) was for a frosted lemon cookie called “Anginetti.” When I asked Dom about them, he said he remembered something similar that tasted like wax… Yum.

After reading a boat-load of recipes that didn’t sound a bit like wax, I decided to give them a try anyway. You all know that I like to add a bit of history with recipes, but I could find very little with the exception that they originated in Naples and the southern regions of Italy. As with many, Italian cookies, they are not overly sweet. With lemon zest and flavoring along with a lemon juice glaze, these cookies are zesty and pillowy soft. While I suppose you could make these without nonpareils, almost every recipe online and off had the colorful decorative round sprinkles on top. They are a tasty and vibrant addition to any Italian cookie table.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup milk
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until frothy. Beat in the lemon and vanilla extracts, lemon zest, and salt. Add the eggs and beat for a full minute until light and fluffy, and then add the milk and baking powder beating for another 30 seconds.

Fold the flour into the batter taking care not to overmix or deflate the batter or your cookies will be tough (and taste like wax?) due to overdeveloped gluten in the flour. The dough will be very sticky. At this point, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or longer.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon sheets. Using floured hands, roll the dough into your desired shape. There are three classic shapes for these cookies: simple balls, rings and knots. Bake cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes being cautious not to overcook. The cookies should be blonde on top and lightly golden on the bottom. If you are planning to freeze some of the cookies, allow them to cool and freeze before glazing.

2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Juice of one large lemon
2 teaspoons lemon extract
Water as needed

While the cookies cool, prepare the glaze by mixing the confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and lemon extract in a bowl until the glaze is smooth. Add water gradually until you reach the consistency you desire. If the glaze is too thick, add a bit of water and blend until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add a bit more confectioner’s sugar.

Dip the cooled cookies into the glaze, so that just the top is coated, turning once or twice, then lifting to let the extra glaze drip off. Place the cookies on a rack adding the sprinkles before the glaze begins to set. Let the cookies sit on the rack until the glaze dries and the cookies can be stored in an airtight container.