Which is worse:
1. Spending an afternoon in Home Depot?
2. Being trapped in a group text?
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).
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…
Cue the sprinkles!
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…
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened*
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 c. part skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 tsp. fiori di sicilia extract**
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 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 1/2 tsp. almond extract if you prefer.
*** I use a small cookie scoop, 1 1/2″ diameter to evenly portion the dough
- Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the softened butter, sugar, and egg. Beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the ricotta cheese and extract. Mix well to combine.
- In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix only until combined.
- Portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheet using a cookie scoop.
- 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.
- Remove from the oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack. Cool completely before decorating.
- 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.
- 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.
- To decorate, dunk 1/2 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.
- 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.
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.