Anginetti are basic Italian drop cookies made in households throughout southern Italy. I swear that almost every Italian nonna (grandmother) makes these, including mine. These soft, cake-like, vanilla cookies have a sugar glaze on top and are usually decorated with colored nonpareils. This basic cookie can be made in a variety of flavors – anise, lemon, orange, and vanilla.
I made several different batches of these cookies using my grandmother’s recipe as a guide. She used all-purpose flour and shortening in her recipe. Nonna’s cookies were great on the first day but seemed a bit dry by the second or third day. So, I decided to experiment by using different types of flour and fats. My goal was to produce a moist, flavorful cookie that still retained its shape. I’ve included a photo of my results. I found that using pastry flour and butter gave the best results. I also used buttermilk for added moisture. I hope you enjoy these sinfully moist and rich cookies!
To the left is the cookie made with cake flour and shortening, which spread too much and was a little dry and bland. In the middle is the cookie made with pastry flour and combination of butter and shortening, which rose slightly higher but was not very flavorful. The cookie on the right was made with all-purpose flour and shortening, which kept it’s shape nicely but was dry and bland in flavor. It also formed cracks along the top.
NONNA’S ANGINETTI COOKIES
(Biscotti Anginetti della Nonna)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 17 large (3 ½-inch) cookies.
FOR THE COOKIE DOUGH
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3 1/4 cup white pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs+ 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
FOR THE GLAZE
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR DECORATION (OPTIONAL)
Nonpareils, sprinkles, or colored sugar crystals
1. MAKE THE COOKIES: Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Using a whisk, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a mixer bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs at medium speed until light and fluffy and sugar is dissolved, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add vanilla and oil, and mix about 1 minute. Add flour mixture, butter, and buttermilk, and mix until combined, about 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 1 hour.
2. BAKE THE COOKIES: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a large cookie/ice cream scoop (3 measuring tablespoons), scoop dough and place 2 1/2-inches apart onto cookie sheet. Alternatively, you can drop rounded tablespoons of dough, 2-inches apart, onto cookie sheet. Smooth the tops lightly with a wet finger. Place in oven and bake for 17 minutes (slightly less time for smaller cookies), until cookies begin to color along edges. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
3. MAKE THE GLAZE AND FROST COOKIES: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil, and place a cooling rack on top of each one. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth. Frost each cookie using a butter knife, add sprinkles and place on rack for several hours until glaze is hard to the touch, about 4 hours. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Note: For anise flavored cookies substitute 1 teaspoon anise extract for the vanilla.
For lemon flavored cookies substitute 1 teaspoon of lemon extract for the vanilla and add 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.
For orange flavored cookies substitute 1 teaspoon of orange extract for the vanilla and add 1 teaspoon grated orange zest.