Whenever my Italian Nana visited us, she would bring an assortment of the most delicious cookies....chocolate, vanilla, orange, fig and sesame cookies overflowed in boxes and re-used coffee cans lined with waxed paper. Italian cookies are different than American cookies, as they are more cake-like and not so sweet.
My mother, who is not Italian, wanted to learn to bake Nana's cookies, but Nana didn't use recipes and never measured anything, she just used her hands to "measure" while she threw the ingredients into a bowl. So my mom watched her and took notes, estimating what a handful or pinch would be, and she created the recipes, which have worked very well through the years!
This particular cookie is one of our favorites. I'm sure my family has wondered why I have not shared it on this blog yet! I'm not sure either, but I finally felt it was time. Nana is no longer with us, but her cookies still bring us happy memories of her!
Italian Chocolate Cookies
Makes ~50 cookies
5 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup Crisco, melted
½ cup strong coffee
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins
1 lb powdered sugar1/4 tsp vanilla
~1/4 cup milk (start with less and add more if needed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients for the dough together. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in all the melted Crisco. Add raisins and walnuts. Add enough coffee to make the dough bind, but you don’t want it to be sticky.
Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheet. These cookies don’t spread, they just puff up a bit, so you don’t have to place them too far apart. Bake for ~15 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, transfer to a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. It’s just easier to clean up after you glaze the cookies!
Mix the icing ingredients together. If you want your icing to be chocolate, just add a little cocoa powder. You could even use coffee instead of milk for the liquid. Nana always had white icing, so that’s how I like it. Drizzle each cookie with icing, or dip the cookie upside down into the icing for a thicker glaze.