Every year for Christmas, my mother, my grandmother, my sisters, and I get together on a Saturday and spend hours making cookies. Through the first few batches, samples of the cookie dough and finished cookies get sampled, but we usually give up on tasting things after a few hours. All the sugar cookie-based recipes and spice recipes like gingerbread and snickerdoodle just start to taste the same after awhile and we give up. These Italian Christmas cookies may be the recipe we use to break up the monotony this year at my family baking session.
These cookies use pineapple as the main flavoring. Although it may seem unusual to use a tropical flavor for a holiday cookie, these cookies taste amazing and the use of fruit helps to add a new note to the season’s desserts. Admittedly, the recipe isn’t one of the simplest in the book—it requires a mixer and quite a few bowls, as well as seven steps. It is a very fast recipe, however, and it’s pretty easy to follow. The instructions are clear and easy, so don’t be intimidated by them. The cookies are well worth it.
My favorite part about these cookies is actually the icing. I usually don’t like icing, but the acidity in the pineapple juice balances some of the sweetness of the sugar. The pineapple flavoring really shines throughout the whole dessert to make a sweet but refreshing treat that would be delicious year round. This is one of the best cookie recipes I’ve tried for fruit-based cookies and the only one I’ve tried so far with pineapple. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Perhaps this year would be a great year to bring some Italian flair into your holiday season with these Italian Christmas cookies.
Yield: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles or Demerara sugar (optional)
1. For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Drain the crushed pineapple, reserving 1 tablespoon of the juice for the glaze. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground nutmeg, and baking soda.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well blended. With the mixer running on medium, gradually add the dry ingredients until well mixed.
4. Using a cookie scoop, shape the dough into 2-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.
5. Cool completely on wire racks.
6. For the frosting/glaze: While the cookies cool, combine the confectioners’ sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla and the reserved pineapple juice to make a light glaze.
7. Use an offset spatula to smooth some glaze on each cookie. Top with sprinkles or Demerara sugar (optional). Serve.
Italian Christmas Cookies