These cookies are a celebration all on their own.
Easter is a special time of year when families get together across the globe to celebrate. While it’s a holy holiday, it’s also a celebration of all things spring for the year ahead. In Italy, as will surprise no one, there are a number of delicious foods made just for the occasion, including these delicate lemon knot cookies.
Some say the knot shape was first used for weddings to symbolize the union of two families. But, this shape of cookie has since become popular to serve at all kinds of celebrations, Easter being the most popular.
These cookies have a lemon zest dough that’s somewhat like a cross between a sugar cookie and a shortbread, with plenty of butter in the dough. Because of this the dough needs to be cold when you work with it.
To make the knot shape you’ll first need to roll small sections into balls. You might be tempted to roll it out into a snake shape like those childhood Play Dough sessions, but this will result in tapered ends. Rolling into a ball first ensures the ends are blunt, which is what you want.
Then make the dough rope into the shape of a lower case b. Take the longer end and push it gently through the hole and then pat it together so it stays. Arrange them on lined baking sheets so they come off easily. Then after baking let them cool before icing them.
The icing has more lemon in it for layers of lemon flavor. Before the icing has set you can top with some sprinkles, or some lemon zest. I opted for turbinado sugar, but you can use any “sprinkle” type of garnish you like.
Then let the glaze fully set before serving. I have made these for my family a few times now and they are gone almost immediately. Everyone comments on the lemon-y flavor and the wonderful texture, and then has another cookie! They’re perfect for Easter, but they’ll be a hit at any gathering.
Italian Easter Cookies
Makes about 30 cookies
2h 30m prep time
15m cook time
For the cookies:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- zest of 1 lemon
For the glaze:
- 1 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- pinch salt
- sprinkles, lemon zest, or turbinado sugar for decoration
- Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar together with electric mixer for 4 minutes. Add egg and stir. Add remaining cookie dough ingredients and stir until uniform in color. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- When ready to bake preheat oven to 350˚F. Roll dough into balls 1” across. Roll each ball into a rope of dough about 4” to 5” long. Form rope into lowercase b shape, then bring long tail through the hole. Gently pat together to ensure the knots stay “tied” during baking.
- Place on lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes on center rack.
- While cookies bake whisk together glaze ingredients. Place cookies on wire rack and drizzle glaze over tops. Add sprinkles, lemon zest, or turbinado sugar on top while glaze is still wet. Allow to set completely before removing from rack to serve.
Recipe adapted from Food Network.