Monday, October 1, 2012

Aunt Angie's Italian Cookies


    My name is Angela. Sometime around 7th grade or so, teachers started calling me "Angie" and I didn't have the gumption to tell them not to. Don't get me wrong, I do not dislike the nickname "Angie", it is just that that isn't me, it couldn't be me. You see in my family there already was an Angie.

    Angie was my father's aunt on the Italian side. She was his favorite aunt, she was EVERYONE's favorite aunt. She was the matriarch, the glue which held our large family together with her love and cooking. We would gather in her kitchen after Sunday Mass where she would place plate after plate of mouthwatering food in front of you. Just when you thought she was done, another plate was placed on the already filled table. Her salads were always soaked in Italian dressing and her ziti was filled with sausage and cups of parmesan and mozzarella. At the end of dinner you were completely stuffed, satiated and trying to discreetly loosen the top button of your jeans.

                                          

   But then came dessert and coffee.

   And you made room, you ALWAYS made room.

   For Aunt Angie's desserts were the stuff that legends are made of. This recipe is proof of that.

                                         

   She would make these cookies often, just to have around when the inevitable guest stopped by, but especially for parties. If it was your birthday she long stopped asking what she could bring to it (she already knew the answer), and instead simply asked you what color you would like her to make the icing. I fondly remember my Aunt Lisa's baby shower (long before you were able to find out the baby's gender before the birth) where Aunt Angie made the cookies with both pink and blue icing. They were a beautiful symbol of the promise of new life about to join our family (My dear, sweet cousin, Alyssa).

   When I was first taking an interest in baking I asked her for a copy of the recipe. She wrote it out for me by memory. I still use her handwritten page for the cookies. It's priceless to me.


                                                           

   Aunt Angie passed away when I was 17. We all felt like she was taken out of our lives far too quickly and far too early.

   Soon after her passing, I started making these cookies and for a long time I always felt like they didn't taste as good as when she made them. But, how could that be?  I was using her hand written recipe! They were still very, very good ... but just felt like they were missing something. I used to joke around that I wished Aunt Angie would come to me in a dream and tell me what I was doing wrong.

  Then about 5 years ago I made them and brought them to Easter at my Aunt Dolly's house. My dad asked... "What did you do differently this time?" 

  "I don't know", I replied, "I just followed her recipe like always, why do you ask?"
  
   Then he said the words that I know I will always remember, "These taste just like Angie's".

                                       
   I don't know what it was, maybe we all were just missing her so dearly. What I do know is that whenever I make these cookies, it feels like she is in my kitchen baking along side of me. Whenever I bring them to a family party, we all smile and recall our wonderful memories of our aunt. An aunt who always made you feel welcome and loved.

   It is a beautiful thing to not only leave behind a memory, but also a feeling.

   My family now asks me to make these cookies for family parties. I don't know if any of them realize how deeply honored that makes me feel. To an outsider, that probably sounds silly, but to me ..... it feels like I'm helping to strengthen that glue holding us all together.

                                         

  These cookies are delectable. They are soft as cake and the icing leaves that little extra sweetness lingering on your tongue. Whenever I bring them to a friend's house, I am always asked for the recipe, and I can't help myself from telling them a bit about my very special aunt in heaven.

   Ingredients:
  • 4 cups sifted four
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • about 3 tablespoons whole milk  (for icing)
  • about 2 cups powdered sugar     (for icing)
     Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda  - then set aside
                          

Cream together butter and sugar
                            
                              
                                 
Beat in eggs one at a time , then add vanilla
                           
                             

Alternately add flour mixture and ricotta cheese
                          

The dough is VERY sticky, so if you have one, I would recommend using a stand mixer with a cookie paddle. If you don't, it can still be done by hand.

                           

Drop on greased cookie sheet (or parchment paper)
                           

Bake for 10-12 minutes

Let cool completely
                         

Whisk together milk and powdered sugar until desired consistency (I make mine thick, but still able to drop from the whisk
                         

When cookies are cool, drop a dot of icing in the center of each cookie. As it dries it will slowly spread over the cookie.
                       
                                       

  Once the icing is hard, you can stack them in a covered container and store them in the refrigerator.

  Makes about 75 cookies

                     

  I made these this past weekend for my aunt and uncle's surprise 50th anniversary party. It's so special to know that in a way, Aunt Angie was there too.


  Thank you for stopping by today and listening to my story. I hope your family enjoys them.
                                                  <3

                                              ~ Angela



 

11 comments:

Sarah Beth said...

Coming over from the bloghop =) Those look delicious!!! And easy. And I'm totally jealous of your pink KitchenAid mixer. I want one. I'm excited to follow along =) Check out my blog if you get the chance. You will probably see those cookies sometimes soon =)

xoxo,

Sarah
woodsfamilyofthree.blogspot.com

Mom said...

OMG....you made me cry. I LOVE this!!!!! Have I told you how proud I am of you??

Susan said...

These looks so delicious! I'll have to make them at Christmas!

I'm stopping by from the Naptime Review. I'd love for you to visit my blog at http://www.fashionablysaving.wordpress.com

Have a great day!

Mama Harris Kitchen said...

I found you on the Monday Mingle Blog Hop. This story brought tears to my eyes, absolutely precious! They look delicious too!

Melinda @ Mom on the Make said...

What a very precious story! I seriously got chills reading this post. I have recipes that have been handed down several generations too. Why are they always the best? :) I will be trying this recipe very soon. My three little ones would love it, and I will too!

Patricia Purcell said...

What a beautiful memory! I have a version of this recipe and it is delicious!

Christine Ziegler said...

Grammy would be proud!

Winnie said...

Beautiful story !
I've heard of these cookies and now I must try to make them
Thanks for sharing :)

Earning-My-Cape said...

These look delicious!
What a sweet story, too!
Thank you for sharing with my Super Link Party!

Diana DuHaime said...

Angela! Just found your adorable blog! Love it! These cookies might just be in my cookie gift tins this year, they sound delish! I wanted to tell you that I found a cute way to save recipes- I have some from my mom and grandmother that I just hold so close. If you put it in a frame and hang it in the kitchen, it just adds such charm and it will stay fresh and nice for years to come... just wanted to pass it along because it really is something I was like Perfect! I'm doing it!

Thanks for sharing your ideas and creativity, I'm so glad I can still hear of all your creative adventures, long after beauty school days!

love, Diana xo

Jackie said...

So I made your cookies for my cookie exchange at work and they were the hit of the party! Everybody wanted the recipe! (I made them low fat of course being that it was a dietitian cookie exchange)

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