One of the most wonderful things about the holidays is that every family has their own traditions. This is very noticeable in the meals we prepare, the treats we bake and even the food gifts we exchange. Food is definitely an important aspect of the holidays, so much so that if something is missed or you don’t serve up what the family expects it could lead to major disappointments! What I also find interesting is food origins — either the stories behind why we serve a certain dish, or what country or culture the foods we enjoy come from. What I discovered recently, however is that a few of my favorite holiday cookies aren’t actually original to the countries or cultures I thought. Here are seven Italian Christmas cookies you might have thought originated elsewhere.
1. Italian Rainbow Cookies
It’s funny these appear on the list, as I always thought of these more as a cake, similar to the petites fours my grandmother often served. However, their three layers of colored green, red and white cake in hand with layers of apricot jam and chocolate create not only a festive addition to the table, but also a salute to the Italian flag. (1)
2. Italian Fig Cookies (Cuccidati)
You might think of these as a fancy Fig Newton. Not a favorite of mine due to the seeds. However, these are nice little fruity cookies with a hint of citrus in them that make a sophisticated addition to any cookie tray. (2)
3. Florentine (Lace) Cookies
I always thought these were French, which is kind of dumb since the Florentine clearly refers to Florence, Italy. These Italian Christmas cookies are not only delicious with their crisp nuts and dip of chocolate, but they also look lovely too. (3)
4. Thumbprint Cookies
This is another big surprise as an Italian Christmas cookie. I thought these were all-American, but their origins are from Italy. I love these because of their adorable name and the fact you can make them your own choice of jams. I’ve also seen people get pretty creative with alternatives to the fruit filling with different things like chocolate. (4)
5. Italian Christmas Cookies
These pretty basic cookies are kind of like sugar cookies, but have a hint of anise that speaks to their Italian heritage. The anise adds a taste of black licorice which I think is a love it or hate it kind of flavor. They can be decorated in different colored icings to make them even more holiday friendly. (5)
6. Anise Pizzelle
As the name implies, this is another cookie with a hint of anise. However, you can switch the flavor up using your choice of extracts from boozy rum to citrus or vanilla. These are made in a pizzelle iron, kind of like a waffle iron meets a panini press, so they are always best literally served hot off the press! (6)
This was a real surprise to me as this has always been my favorite Christmas cookie. We call them snowballs and use pecans instead of hazelnuts. They are a lot of work, but they literally melt in your mouth. Their rich, nuttiness, and the elegant dusting of icing sugar in hand with their shortbread like butteriness make them the perfect Italian Christmas cookie in my books. (7)
Add any of these Italian Christmas cookies to your treat trays this year and watch them disappear.
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