Classic Italian foods always seem to make an appearance on our family table at the holidays. For my husband Jack and his big Italian family – of course, that makes sense! But for me – coming from a large Polish family – in between the pierogi and the stuffed cabbage that was always served at our Christmas meals, we also had a few Italian foods at the table thanks to my mother’s sister, Bertha.
Coici Bertha, as we called her (Coici is “aunt” in Polish), was married to my Uncle Pete – an Italian – so the menu at her house was always a wonderful blend of the best of two culinary worlds! She made a terrific lasagna (note to self…I must get her recipe!) but I also remember the cookie tray – an exotic (to me) combination of treats including anisette cookies with colorful sprinkles, pizzelle (some with, and some without powdered sugar) as well as some delicious soft, frosted ricotta cookies!
Among my favorites were the ricotta cookies – and a few weeks ago, Jack and I were sharing fond cookie memories from each of our childhoods! I looked around and found this recipe online, but wanted to adapt it to recreate these Orange Ricotta Cookies we’re sharing today!
Ricotta cookies are often flavored with lemon, but we liked the more distinctive orange flavor in our version. We used whole milk ricotta in our orange ricotta cookies – giving them a soft, cake-like consistency and the fresh orange zest gives the cookies wonderful flavor. The icing also has orange zest as well as orange juice – so there is no mistaking the delicious citrus flavor!
These orange ricotta cookies are really quite easy to make – but a word of caution. As you mix in the flour, just be sure not to over mix the cookie dough to ensure that your ricotta cookies are light and tender!
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- A pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 8 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta (drain any excess liquid, if necessary)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 large orange (about 2 teaspoons)
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2½ to 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the sugar and softened butter and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the first egg to the mixing bowl and mix well. Then add the second egg, and again mix well.
- Add the ricotta, vaniila and orange zest and mix to combine.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on low until all ingredients are just combined – being careful not to over mix.
- Using a small scoop or tablespoon drop the dough onto the baking sheets about two inches apart.
- Bake cookies for 20 to 22 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and light golden. (If you are baking both cookie sheets at the same time in the oven, rotate halfway through the baking time.) Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks before glazing.
- When ready to glaze, in a small, wide bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest and mix into a smooth glaze. Add more powdered sugar if needed to make the glaze thick enough to coat the cookies when dipped.
- Holding the cookies with your fingers, dip the top of the cookies in the glaze and then immediately turn back over and place on a wire rack to dry.
- Allow cookies to dry for about 2 hours until completely set before storing.
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