I went over to my roommate Heather's house right before we went home for Christmas break, and we baked a double batch of Italian Sprinkle Cookies with Heather's mom. It was so fun! The recipe was called "Aunt Lena's Italian Sprinkle Cookies", but I remember my grandma making these for many many years when I was little, calling them her Ukrainian cookies. :-P Heather's mom got the recipe online, and it made me really happy to know these cookies I used to love were so easy to make!
These colorful cookies make a great gift no matter what season it is. We bagged them up and gave them out in groups of 6's, 8's and 12's to friends, family, co-workers, and bosses. The cookies were delicious! The key to this recipe is to use pure almond and lemon extract - the quality really makes a difference when the cookie relies on the extracts for flavor. You also want to make sure to use fresh sprinkles! In the past, I've accidentally used stale sprinkles on birthday cakes and it really brings down the taste. Oops!
The original instructions said to mix melted shortening into the flour mix, but that ended up creating tons of lumps (not that that affected the taste at all!). We ended up going through the dough piece by piece, trying to smooth out all of the lumps and bumps. We guessed that adding the flour to the shortening instead would've avoided this, and Heather made the recipe again a little late, she told me it did! The glaze was also much too thin at first, running right off the cookies and not really holding sprinkles. So, I'm posting the edited version below. Enjoy!
Aunt Lena's Italian Sprinkle Cookies
makes about 7 dozen
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons PLUS 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup shortening, melted
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/2 cup warms milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 lb confectioners’ sugar
Round colored sprinkles
Using a heavy-duty electric mixer on high speed, beat eggs until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In another mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar and baking powder. Pour the melted shortening and extracts into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the melted shortening and extracts until a bead-like texture is formed. Gradually add beaten eggs (dough will be stiff). Roll dough into 1-in, balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. The tops of the cookies will not brown, but the bottoms should brown slightly.
For glaze, combine milk and extracts in a large bowl. Add sugar; whisk until all lumps are dissolved and the glaze is smooth. As soon as cookies are removed from the oven, quickly immerse two or three at a time into the glaze. Remove with a slotted spoon or fingers. Place cookies on wire racks to drain. Quickly top with sprinkles. Let dry 24 hours before storing in airtight containers.