Italian Butter Cookies

cookie swap

Chitlins, it’s Year 2 of the Food Blogger Cookie Swap and can I just say that my cookies this year are WAAAAAY better looking than last years? Good lord what was I thinking last year. Not a good way to advertise your blog. They didn’t even have sprinkles! Eeyuck.
This year I wanted super cute, but totally simple cookies. Not having the artistic skill nor patience to create adorable frosted sugar cookies I went the dipped in sprinkles route. Sadly, because it’s winter and my work schedule is insane, I never got a chance to photograph the other versions of this cookie that I made. Deal with it.

So these cookies. They’re one of my all time favorite Italian deli cookies. I have this really distinct memory of eating these and the leaf shaped cookies from a platter at some event from my mother’s side of the family (the Italian side). I have no idea what it’s from, but I know I’ve definitely gorged on these before. I love them.

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Funnily enough, my mother does not. She apparently does not like any Italian desserts (ha-whaaaa?) and claims that they’re all bland and boring. o_0 Of course I’m probably not one to judge cookies since the only kind I definitely do not like are ones with peppermint in them. Otherwise, come one, come all, give me your tired masses of cookies and I will happily consume without regard to my waistline.

The best part about these cookies? They’re infinitely customizable. For the swap I did the traditional piped route, and while pretty I found it to be a bit more work than I liked. You needed the strength of Hulk to pipe them, but a delicate touch to prevent the bag from splitting open. Talk about hand cramps.

I made a second batch the following weekend and made classic drop cookies. I rolled some in sanding sugar before baking and the others I left plain. You could probably roll them in sprinkles before baking as well. Then I sandwiched some with this totally awesome faux-chocolate buttercream filling. Every cookie was dipped in some version of candy melts (chocolate, white chocolate, or egg nog (!!!)) and then some were dipped in sprinkles again.

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I followed the original recipe (which I cannot find for the life of me) almost to a T with the exception of upping the vanilla and in one batch substituting almond flavor. Also when I ran out of cake flour I did an approximate estimation of how much cornstarch to replace the flour with based on weight ratios. Totally scientific. They’re pretty hard to mess up though.

Italian Butter Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3 dozen
For the cookies
  • 12 oz butter, softened (3 sticks)
  • 6 oz sugar
  • 3 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla (or 1 tsp almond flavoring)
  • 4.5 oz eggs (approx 2 large eggs)
  • 1lb 2 oz cake flour (when I ran out I did approx 14 oz regular flour and 4 oz cornstarch)
  • pinch of salt
For the Chocolate Cream Filling
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup meringue powder
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
To make the cookies
  1. Heat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in vanilla and eggs until incorporated (do not overmix, it will curdle).
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the cake flour (or flour and cornstarch) and salt.
  5. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the flour mixture beating just until combined and no streaks remain.
  6. At this point the dough will be fairly soft and sticky. You can either pipe it using a 1M Wilton tip or you can roll the dough into balls, about 1 tbsp, and roll in sugar or sprinkles, or leave plain and flatten slightly with the bottom of a floured cup.
  7. Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies and how dark your pan is (my darker pan took less time). cookies will not brown significantly, if at all, but the tops should be firm to the touch. Cool on wire rack.
  8. These are traditionally filled with seedless jam, but I think that’s no fun for the holidays.
To make the filling
  1. In a small saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. When the mixture cools add to a stand mixer with the meringue powder and beat on high with the whisk attachment until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the cocoa powder and 2 cups of powdered sugar. When meringue is stiffened, gradually whisk in powdered sugar/cocoa mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. Switch to a paddle attachment and with mixer running on medium, gradually add the butter 1 tbsp at a time. Beating until fully incorporated and glossy.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. Add the remaining powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached - it should resemble Oreo cookie filling. If a deeper chocolate flavor is desired, add more cocoa or beat in some melted chocolate.
  1. When cookies have cooled pipe a small circle of filling onto the cookie and then smoosh with another cookie. Don’t pipe too much in or it’ll smoosh out the sides and the cookie won’t stay together.
  2. Dip in desired candy melts (or melted chocolate) and sprinkles. Let dry on wax paper.


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  1. Sharon Hyde says

    I would definitely try homemade Italian cookies. I do not like store bought ones..they leave an icky residue on your tongue..yuck

  2. says

    Thank you SO SO much for sending these to me, they were DELICIOUS! In fact, I couldn’t wait for to post the recipe so that I could make them myself soon! Thanks!! xoxo


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