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Italian Ricotta Cookies

These Italian Ricottes Cookies are soft and light and a  holiday favorite at my house! Lightly lemon flavored and decked out in holiday sprinkles, no Christmas cookie tray is complete without these! 

I love a soft cakey cookie; eggnog cookies, soft pumpkin cookies, and pineapple cookies are among my favorites. So it is probably no surprise Italian Ricotta Cookies are always the first cookie I bake every holiday season. They are lightly lemon flavored, soft, tender and surprisingly creamy. 

Ricotta Cookies aren’t just for the holidays, they are too good not to bake and share throughout the year! I’ve had ricotta cookies at graduation parties, topped with sprinkles in the schools colors, baby showers, and I’ve even made them in the spring without sprinkles, the light lemon flavors are perfect for mother’s day!  

Ricotta cookies are the kind  of cookie you can totally customize with your favorite flavors. I am a fan of the traditional lemon, but you can make orange flavored ricotta cookies, or leave the citrus out completly, and bump up the amount of vanilla (2 tablespoons) for a  lovely vanilla-flavored cookie. 

Tips and hints for Italian Ricotta Cookies

Ricotta cookies are very simple, if you run into a problem it will most likely be over browning on the bottom of the cookie, but I have a few tips to help you avoid this common problem:

  1. Avoid using dark metal pans, Use a light-colored baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
  2. Turn the sheet pan around halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
  3.  All ovens run slightly different. Set the timer for about half the bake time recommended, especially with new recipes. This is a good time to turn your pan, but also lets you monitor the progress of the baking, and fine-tune the baking time without running the risk of over-baking the cookies.

Ricotta cookies freeze very well. I usually freeze them before I frost them. I place them on a cookie sheet not touching to freeze them individually after they’ve cooled completely until they are frozen solid. Once frozen I transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bags. If I stack the frozen cookies one on top of another I use a piece of wax paper to separate the layers. Soft cakey cookies tend to stick to each other, even after being frozen

Italian Ricotta Cookies

Italian Ricotta Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Active Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

This classic Italian cookie is a must for every holiday cookie tray!

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 15 oz. ricotta, whole milk or fresh (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Glaze:

  • 1 Tbsp butter (salted or unsalted), melted
  • 3-3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 - 6 Tbsp milk

Instructions

For the cookies:

  1. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt until well mixed, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy (scrape down sides and bottom of bowl occasionally throughout entire mixing process).
  3. Mix in ricotta and vanilla extract then blend in eggs one at a time into the butter mixture. Set mixer on low speed and slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 20 minutes of dough chilling.
  6. Scoop chilled dough out 1 Tbsp at a time and shape into balls (if it's too sticky just drop onto the sheet using two spoons), drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 12 - 14 minutes until the underside of cookies are golden. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Once cool dip tops of cookies in glaze and return to a wire rack, immediately add sprinkles if using. Allow glaze to set at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in a single layer.

For the glaze:

  1. In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar, melted butter, lemon juice or almond extract, vanilla and 4 Tbsp milk until smooth, adding in more milk 1 tsp at a time to thin as needed.
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