italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway!

italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway! |theclevercarrot.comWhich is worse:

1. Spending an afternoon in Home Depot?


2. Being trapped in a group text?

italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway! |


We found ourselves in Home Depot not by choice. We needed a new window. I will spare you the boring details because really, all you need to know is that our current living room window is made out of tissue paper and we’re going to freeze to death.

But window shopping is not like buying milk.

We needed assistance.

And in our case, we got the new guy. The guy with limited knowledge. The guy who wanted to be somewhere else on a Saturday afternoon (me too!). He did inform us however, that he hates sesame seeds on his hamburger buns and anyone who likes seeds on anything is just plain ‘weird.’

You see where I’m going with this?

Then, my phone starts rattling. I dig through all the crap in my bag to find 38 missed text messages.

Stupidly, I respond.

(and now I’m trapped).

Send cookies.

italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway! |

What happened next is a blur.

I thought about Christmas and homemade gifts. Ricotta cookies are classic this time of year and always on my baking list. They’re soft, sweet and dance along the lines of cookies and cake. Madame Editor’s mom makes the best ones but I’m forbidden to publish the recipe. It’s a family secret.

So, I made a lighter version with a few updates:

  • I removed some of the butter
  • I used part-skim ricotta cheese
  • I swapped vanilla extract for fiori di sicilia

Fiori di sicilia is an incredibly fragrant extract with hints of orange, lemon, and vanilla. It’s also very strong. You only need a drop. The taste and smell will transport you to a box of sweet Italian pastries. It’s beautiful.

What’s not beautiful are these cookies naked

italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway! |

Cue the sprinkles!

italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway! |theclevercarrot.comMuch better.

Although I’ve made changes to the coveted original, these ricotta cookies maintain their integrity with a soft center and delicate flavor. I challenge you to eat just one! With regards to decorating, I never go crazy with my appliqué. I’m not good at it. These cookies are simply dipped into glaze and topped with sprinkles.

And since it’s the season of giving, I have something for you…

italian christmas ricotta cookies + a giveaway! |

italian christmas ricotta cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 30
Wet ingredients
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened*
  • ⅔ c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. part skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ tsp. fiori di sicilia extract**
Dry ingredients
  • 1½ c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ c. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tbsp. milk
  • 1 large bottle (7.5 oz) mixed red, white & green sprinkles
* To quickly soften butter, microwave for 10+ seconds adjusting the time as needed.
** You can order Fiori di Sicilia extract online through King Arthur Flour and Amazon, or purchase at Sur La Table or Italian specialty shops. Substitute with 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract or ½ tsp. almond extract if you prefer.
*** I use a small cookie scoop, 1½" diameter to evenly portion the dough
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the softened butter, sugar, and egg. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the ricotta cheese and extract. Mix well to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined.
  6. Portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheet using a cookie scoop.
  7. Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. Note: I prefer to bake my cookies one pan at a time. Repeat this process when the first batch is done.
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack. Cool completely before decorating.
  9. To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a glaze has formed.
  10. Set up your decoration station: grab 2 bowls and cut a long piece of parchment paper. One bowl is for the sprinkles and the other bowl will remain empty ( to catch the sprinkles as you decorate). Place the parchment paper on the table for the glazed cookies to dry.
  11. To decorate, dunk ½ of each cookie into the glaze, allowing the excess to drip off. Working over your empty bowl, top the glazed half with sprinkles. Do not dunk the cookies into the sprinkles; the glaze will fall off and the sprinkles will get wet.
  12. Place the decorated cookies onto the parchment paper. Dry completely before serving.
* If you'd like to make these cookies in advance, I recommend baking only 1 day head of time. They become softer as they sit. Store in an air tight container.


{Now Closed}

My home decor friends, Q Squared NYC have a generous gift set to giveaway. One lucky winner will receive 2  pieces from the whimsical Peony Collection; a large serving platter and matching serving bowl. Their collections are BPA free and great for entertaining- they don’t break! Plus, they’re super pretty. Click on the images for more details.

To enter the giveaway, fill out the entry box below! And if you’d like, tell me your favorite holiday cookie in the comments. Good luck!

Peony Serving Platter

Peony Serving Bowl


  1. Patti says

    These cookies look amazing, I’ll have to add them to my holiday cookie tray.
    As for the draft in your living room, I recommend you leave the house this weekend. Maybe a quick trip up north would be good for you and the boys!!!!!!!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Patti! Are you going up this weekend? The boys ask to go all the time. They love LP! And can you believe- no new window yet! I’m telling you, Home Depot was an absolute nightmare… xo

  2. says

    Eeks! I def feel your pain. Looks like you had quite a stimulating and relevant conversation with the “helper.” I love the healthier adaptation you made. These cookies look so soft and fluffy! Sprinkles or not, I know I can’t stop at just one!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Min! So happy to see you here ;) Yes, relevant conversation indeed. When he asked whether we needed a ‘buck’ or ‘nail in’ window (don’t ask) that’s when I just zoned out. The poinsettias in the background might’ve had something to do with it… At least we got some cookie inspiration from this dreaded experience. And they really are soft and fluffy. Enjoy!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Tori! These cookies will make a festive addition to any holiday cookie platter. For best results, make them 1 day in advance. Have fun with the recipe and thanks for pinning!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Mariana! What a pretty name! These are very easy to make, especially the decorating part. If you’d like to give them as gifts, I recommend baking them 1 day in advance. They become softer as the days go by. I hope you like the recipe :)

  3. says

    Goodness, I would love to win !!! But, we’ve already won with your brilliant recipe. Anything ITALIAN has me. And, I’m not at all a cook, but I’m gonna make these and give some to everyone I know. Delightful X10, and so is your blog.
    Happy Holidays, darling one.

    • Emilie says

      You are so sweet, Marsha! Thank you! Italians do holiday cookies very well, that’s for sure. And the fiori di sicilia extract takes it over the top. I hope your recipients like these cookies! Wishing you a very happy holiday and thanks again for stopping by :)

  4. says

    What great looking cookies. I am sorry to hear about your window, and the black hole of the texting trap. You will love your new window – no more drafts! And I bet it will be quieter. As for my favorite Christmas cookie. That’s difficult. Let’s say Calzoncelli!

    I just adore Fiori di Sicilia. I have used it for many years, and there is nothing else like it. You are so right about using just a bit. I have seen recipes that call for your same amount of flour, but 1-2 TABLESPOONS of Fiori di Sicilia. Can you imagine? That would be enough (literally) to put someone off the stuff forever.

    • Emilie says

      Don’t even get me started on this stuff- 1-2 tablespoons?! That’s incredible. I find that 1/4- 1/2 tsp (not even) does the trick. I’ve had my bottle for 2 years now, and I don’t think I’ll ever finish the whole thing. Want some? LOL. And, it’s just as strong as day 1. Great choice with Calzoncelli by the way :)

  5. says

    So sorry for your window and unfortunate time spent at Home Depot. I avoid Home Depot at all costs, but sometimes, you just gotta go (not that I don’t like HD, it’s just the whole warehouse thing… just too big and we always end up spending way too much time there!). Is your window fixed? It’s wayy to cold to go without one! I still don’t know what’s worse… caught up in a group text or HD….. LOL!

    Emilie, these cookies are lovely and I think the sprinkles are a good idea too! Festive on these demure, but not plain, cookies! Sounds like I need some Fiori di sicilia; where can I get my hands on some? Thank you for your recipe and this lovely giveaway!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Traci! Home Depot is such a trap. It’s like you said, you can’t avoid it but once you’re there all time is lost! And then you end up with stuff you don’t need like in my case, a 5 ft. reindeer with matching sled. Because it was on sale. Anyway, we ended up leaving without the window because 2 hours into the guy’s sales pitch I was starting to see spots and I had to get out of there. My husband too. I’m afraid it’s an ongoing process… About the extract: you can get it online at King Arthur, Amazon or if you have a shop near you, Sur La Table. Williams Sonoma might sell it too :)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Tammi! Oh, yes those are very pretty. I just wish I was good at the whole decorating thing. I do one or two and then give up! Do you make your own? :)

  6. Libby says

    These look really special, I’m definitely going to add them to my list of cookies to make. I’m ever partial to the chocolate crackles – the rich chocolatey ones that are dipped in powdered sugar – but I also love a good chocolate chip cookie with crushed candy canes. But really, it’s hard to go wrong with a cookie.

    • Emilie says

      Oh, you are speaking my language Libby- I LOVE the chocolate crackle cookies! I think I might post a recipe… Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite too. Decisions! Decisions! No wonder they call it the season of excess ;)

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Rita! Can you believe I don’t even know what Butter Ball Cookies are? Do I live in a cave? Now, I must go investigate ;)

    • Emilie says

      Me too. Everything is better with ricotta. You could serve me dirt pie with whipped ricotta topping and I’d eat it. LOL. I hope you like the recipe! :) xoxo

  7. says

    These look so festive, and they sound delicious … I’m so curious about the fiori de sicilia flavouring too! It sounds beautiful. My favourite Christmas cookie was always my mother’s shortbread – they were so buttery and it was much too easy to eat a dozen haha… another favourite are peanut butter balls (I think other people call them “Buckeyes”). I haven’t really tried my hand at gluten free and dairy-free Christmas cookies but this might be the year to start!

    Also – I really feel your pain on your afternoon at Home Depot. That sounds terrible :( I hope you don’t freeze in the meantime as things get sorted!!!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Christine! I am very partial to shortbread as well. I like the simplicity. You know, I was just going to ask if you’ve ever baked a gluten free shortbread cookie? That would be fun to play around with. Maybe almond, rice flour… millet? Hmm… now I will be obsessing over this for the rest of the day! Totally normal ;)

      • says

        Last year I tried making a gf cranberry and pink peppercorn shortbread which tasted delicious, but totally became one of those whole-pan-mess situations with the coconut oil I used … I’m thinking now that I should have put them in the freezer before baking. Other than that, not many gf shortbread experimentations but now that you mention that … haha I, too, will be thinking about this all day ;)

        • Emilie says

          Oooo, that sounds incredibly festive- the cranberry and pink peppercorn combo. Sorry to hear about the coconut spill out. That must’ve been really frustrating! The freezer is definitely a good idea. Also, sometimes if your oven is not hot enough the oil/butter will ooze before the cookies can take shape. This has happened to me before!

          Do keep me posted if you experiment. I’d love to try something new. Have a wonderful weekend Christine! ;)

  8. says

    Your ricotta cookies sound wonderful and will have to try baking them. My favorite cookie at Christmas is a decorated sugar cookie which I sandwich with a lemon and vanilla buttercream.

    Where do I find Fiori di Sicilia? would it be in the baking section of an Italian market?

    • Emilie says

      Hi Diane! That sounds fabulous- lemon and vanilla buttercream! Yum. I bet they look beautiful as well.

      I’ve just amended the recipe (**above) to include where to buy Fiori di Sicilia extract. I purchased mine online through King Arthur, however you can get it on Amazon, in store at Sur La Table, and Italian specialty shops depending on availability.

      Hope this helps! Happy Baking :)

  9. says

    Haha! This story made me laugh because my husband and I had a similar experience trying to buy a lawnmower this past summer. We got a 16 year old newbie who had probably never mowed the lawn in his life!
    These cookies are so beautiful! I will have to add them to my Christmas baking roster. I have never has ricotta in a dessert before, but it sounds lovely.

    • Emilie says

      I feel for you, I totally do. Home Depot is the ultimate torture. Did you end up getting a good lawnmower? We didn’t even leave with a window. The whole process was way too complicated… and drawn out! I did however, leave with a 5ft reindeer and matching sled. They light up ;)

      Ricotta is desserts is wonderful! It is very versatile and delicate. xx

  10. says

    I don’t know, I really really despise group texts. Home Depot – it depends (on who I’m with and how long they’re taking)

    But these cookies, they sound DIVINE. So pillowy

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Joyti! See? It’s a tough decision, isn’t it… and it happened to me simultaneously! Thank you for taking the time to comment- I appreciate your kind words :)

  11. Jordan says

    Literally, you have picked my two most hated things ever! Home Depot is such a drag…my dad always asks me to go as as a bonding thing, but it’s something of a joke now. Hope you get warm soon!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Jordan! Ah, the old ‘bonding’ excuse… LOL. Same here! My dad knows better by now but my husband still thinks he can convert me. Fat chance. On the day we went, they had complimentary coffee at the front entrance so they earned 2 points for creativity. But once my mini sample cup was empty and the caffeine had worn off, it was time to get out of there! ;)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Sarah! Thank you! The Peony Collection is one of my favorites from Q Squared NYC. I’m partial to white dinnerware and the simplicity of this design. I hope you entered the contest! You’ll really like these pieces. :)

  12. says

    Haha, as someone who avoids shopping at all costs (you’ve never seen a grown woman disintegrate in a retail setting like yours truly), I can relate to the Home Depot fun — random comments and all ;-). I am very intrigued by the fiori di sicilia extract – it sounds heavenly (great stocking stuffer me thinks). These cookies look so festive with the colorful sprinkles but, I don’t know maybe it’s just me, I think they are also lovely in their naked selves. I’m loving your giveaway Emilie — I don’t normally enter giveaways (not sure why… i think i feel i already have more than i need…) but not sure I can resist this one! :D

    • Emilie says

      I’m the same way, Kelly. I get all claustrophobic, hot, and really it’s just not my thing. Outdoor markets are more my speed. Throw me into Home Depot and I die! It must be all that orange ;) Speaking of, I think you will like the extract. It’s a lovely mix of citrus and vanilla. I use it a lot in muffins too.

      Right before I ‘dressed’ these guys I snatched a few au naturel. They were just as good. Now we can eat them for breakfast.

  13. Jocelyn says

    Hi Emilie! These cookies look SO YUMMY!!! I will try them for sure. I have been following you since you began The Clever Carrot. My husband and I learned about it through your mom whom we are friends with. I get many ideas from your recipes and always enjoy your writings. Thank you so much for your contribution to a healthy living.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Jocelyn! Thank you for this sweet note! Connie sent me an email today, actually. I’m so happy you and your husband enjoy this little old space. I love food, talking about food, writing about food and of course, photographing food. Your feedback means a lot and is always inspiring. Thanks for stopping by to comment :)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Marsha! Have fun with the recipe. They’re a great addition to any cookie plate. I LOVE butter pecan crescents :)

  14. Nickie says

    Gosh…I love those beautiful serving pieces! Mincemeat cookies, called “Prize Cookies” on the side of the condensed mincemeat package (None Such brand). My mother made them every Christmas that I can remember. I have changed the recipe to make them a bit healthier but they remain my very favorites.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Nickie! Aren’t they pretty? I love the elegant white color and the pretty scalloped edges.

      The other day I was looking at the back of a Barilla pasta box wondering if anyone ever made the recipes on the side of the package. I think it’s pretty cool that a cooke recipe from your childhood originated that way. I’ve never had Prize Cookies before- I’m intrigued!

      Happy Holidays! :)

  15. says

    I rarely use ricotta and had never heard of fiori di sicilia extract but these cookies look so appetising that it looks as though I need to go shopping for ingredients! They look wonderfully Christmassy – just right for December.

    • Emilie says

      This extract is really, really nice. It combines the best of all worlds into one tiny bottle. It can be used for so many things too. And if you’re up for it, do try the ricotta! It adds a subtle creamy flavor without the tang. Plus, you’ll have some leftover to bake in the oven a la Fig Jam and Lime Cordial ;)

  16. says

    ugh, god, the home depot store. when i was a kid it was my most dreaded location. something about the hugeness and the cold grey floors and the loud machine noises was just the worst for me. and i am so awkward at texting in public for some reason; it’s like i need stillness and quiet and privacy to even think about communicating via text, so i end up typing things i don’t even remember if i attempt to do it in a store. sounds like a double nightmare for sure. i’m glad you have cookies now. :) they look beautiful! the ricotta part sounds so so good.

    • Emilie says

      Don’t even. I actually start to sweat when I go in that store. It’s everything you’ve described and then some!

      And yes, texting is the same over here- I lose all ability to multi-task. My texts are also riddled with typo’s that auto correct can’t even understand. I impulse send without looking first lol.

      Have a lovely weekend Jaime! xo

    • Emilie says

      Hi Carla! I haven’t had those cookies in ages. Now I’m in the mood for one (or 2). Thanks for taking time to visit :)

    • Emilie says

      Hi there! Every year I buy a stash of Christmas sprinkles when they go on sale after the holidays. I put them in a special box along with any other decorations I plan to hoard. The following year, it’s a great surprise to pull out the goods and rediscover what I’ve hidden. It sure beats battling the crowds! :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the cookies!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Anna! Ricotta in dessert is absolutely lovely. It’s very versatile. The flavor lends a subtle creamy sweetness without the tang, like yogurt or sour cream (both which I also love, just for different things). The ricotta will also keep these cookies nice and soft. Enjoy!

    • Emilie says

      Oh my goodness, that’s a real treat! I live for Italian delis… I would probably eat it straight from the container and it would never make it into the cookies ;)

  17. kim says

    These ricotta cookies sound delish and I plan on baking them this Christmas
    with Italian anise cookies. I’ll use 2 different sprinkles for added fun! LOL

  18. Brenda says

    Italian cookies are my absolute favorite. I haven’t had any since my mother-in-law passed away. She made the best, but alzheimer’s disease kept her from sharing the recipe before she died.

    • Emilie says

      Hello Brenda, I’m touched this recipe brought back memories of your mother-in-law. They’re one of my favorites as well. I’m sure my cookies won’t top hers, but perhaps they will share some sweet similarities… Thank you for sharing your story with me. Have a very happy holiday!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Melissa! Thank you! I’m with you on the shortbread. Simple, classic and delicious!

      PS- they freeze beautifully… bake up a batch, cool completely and store in an airtight container in the freezer ;)

  19. says

    Hi Emilie. Something strange happened today with this recipe. And I am sure it’s something I did! I wanted to double the batch so I doubled everything and baked but they came out “cakey” if u knoe what I mean. As if they were Madelines!
    I didn’t have any white sugar so I used icing. But everything else I followed to the dot- where do u think I went wrong? Thank you.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Lara! Oh, no! Sorry to hear that. I’m happy to help trouble shoot :)

      The reason why your cookies were cake-like was due to the icing sugar. This kind of sugar is completely different than granulated sugar and is not an equal substitution. It also has cornstarch in it! It will yield a very different texture altogether.

      Next time, make sure to use granulated sugar. And if you’d like to double the recipe, I would recommend doing this in 2 separate batches (that’s your best bet)!

      I hope this helps! Good luck & happy baking :)

  20. connie raffa says

    Dear Emilie I miss the small business hardware store where you get service. Home Depot came to my city in CT and 23 hardware stores closed, including one that was in business for 100 years and had beautiful wooden drawers holding different screws. Maybe we should try a different place for the window. AS FOR THE COOKIES – I WANT THEM. I LOVE RICOTTA PIE. Aunt Ann use to make it for me at Easter and these cookies seem like a condensed version. Congrats with your beautiful pictures. Auntie

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