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LAist Cookie Exchange: Italian Knots

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Italian cookies are always a bit of puzzlement. The food of my ancestors is so damned delish, but their cookies—not so much. Take it from my semi-Italian American childhood, most of the time you’re cracking your tooth on something twice baked and/or steeped in anise. When my Nona brought out the cookie tin, I used to pray for a Pogen. Instead, I’d get something you had to dip in hot tea to chew. Of course now that I’m grown, I miss the arcane things that passed as treats when I was little. Anise, pistachio, almond paste, hazelnut: bring em on!

Nevertheless, there was one traditional cookie that I did enjoy growing up, mainly because my mom put lots and lots of lemon icing and rainbow sprinkles on top. So, (in true Pavlovian fashion) come Christmas time, I get me a hankerin for a heapin plate of knots.

ITALIAN KNOTS

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6 eggs
½ cup butter, melted
½ pint heavy cream
1 tablespoon extract of your choice (Lemon, Vanilla or Anise)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons baking powder

Combine wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat well and set aside. Combine dry ingredients in another bowl. Slowly mix the dry into the wet until soft dough forms. Let sit a few minutes. It will be sticky, so have extra flour on hand. Form quarter sized balls of dough. Roll each out between fingers to form a rope and twist into a simple knot shape (tuck the ends under). Bake at 375 degrees on lightly greased or non-stick baking sheet for 12-14 minutes.

GLAZE

Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons into ½ a box of powdered sugar. Mix until smooth, adding milk if needed. I like lemon icing. It works well with any of the above flavorings. But if you don't, feel free to substitute milk for lemon juice.

Dip cooled cookies into glaze. Place on rack and dust with rainbow sprinkles. Makes about 5 dozen.

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Hey! What are those things sharing a festive plate with my Knots? Stay tuned for my "We don't need no stinkin rum balls" recipe--another Vitale family favorite.

knots photo by JSPatchwork via flickr

knots & balls photo byEddy13 via flickr