Total: 3 hr 30 min(includes chilling and cooling times)
Active: 35 min
Yield:24 to 26 cookies
1 of 25 servings
These festive Italian Christmas cookies are traditional in the southern part of Italy, but you can find them decorating treat platters across America during the holiday. The texture and flavor are like a sugar cookie, only a touch less sweet and a bit more cake-like. The crumb is buttery and studded throughout with flecks of vanilla bean. Dipped in a vanilla glaze and decorated with red, green and white sprinkles, they make the perfect addition to any table.
For the cookies: Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Combine the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing after each addition until totally combined, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to combine, about 30 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add all of the flour mixture. Mix on low until everything is well combined, scraping down the sides again if necessary, making sure not to overmix. Cover and refrigerate until the dough is completely chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the dough and roll it into a 6- to 7-inch rope. Tie it into a loose knot and place on a 16-by-14-inch insulated nonstick baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. If the knots start to get warm, refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
Bake until the tops of the cookies are dry and set and the bottoms have just turned golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet.
For the glaze and sprinkles: Meanwhile, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla bean paste and salt in a medium bowl until smooth; the glaze should be the consistency of heavy cream.
Once the cookies are cool enough to handle, dip the tops in the glaze, letting any excess run off, then sprinkle with the sprinkles. Transfer the cookies glazed-side up to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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