Make Italian sprinkle cookies a colorful addition to your holiday baking. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Let’s go, people – it’s time to crank some edible holiday gifts out of your kitchen.

When I was growing up, making Christmas goodies was my mother’s favorite thing. Planned out weeks in advance, she got to work the moment after the turkey soup was made (the day after Thanksgiving) and she didn’t stop until just before midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

I followed these matriarchal footsteps for decades. Then a few years ago, I handed the baton to my grown daughters. And although I still make a favorite batch of cookies or two each year, I find it especially rewarding (and soothing) to be offered a cup of tea and a special Christmas cookie (or three) when I visit their homes.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at or 504-0545.

Italian sprinkle cookies are fairly new to my repertoire. Almond flavor is my favorite, but lemon, orange or anise are all nice, too. For sprinkles, look for those made with plant-based dyes.

These cookies can be frozen (minus the icing) for up to one month. Just thaw and dip in icing and sprinkles the day you serve them.

If you’ve ever given or received a box of chocolate-covered cherries for Christmas, raise your hand. Let’s elevate that idea by making these scones, enhanced perfectly with orange. Keep these scones in mind for a Christmas morning treat or New Year’s Day brunch. You’ll also want to make a batch or two to gift to your special someones, along with the sprinkle cookies.


Italian sprinkle cookies

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2½ cups flour


2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

Sprinkles, for decorating

In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, vanilla and almond extract with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low, gradually add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Wrap the dough (it will be quite sticky) in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a cookie scoop and/or your hands, shape the dough into 18 (1½-inch) balls (lightly dusting hands with flour, as needed) and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing each cookie at least 1 inch apart.


Bake cookies until set and very lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Dip the top of each cookie in the glaze, allowing excess to drip off then immediately cover with sprinkles. Place cookies back on the cooling racks with parchment paper underneath and allow glaze to set for about 30 minutes.

Yield: 18 (1 ½-inch) cookies


2 cups sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


1/4 teaspoon almond extract

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and almond extract.

Yield: 1 ½ cups

Cherry chocolate scones with orange

2½ cups flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder


1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream

1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate


1/2 teaspoon orange peel, finely shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, 3/4 cup whipping cream, dried cherries, chocolate pieces and orange peel. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough for 10 to 12 strokes or until smooth. Divide dough in half. Pat or lightly roll each half into a 6-inch circle. Cut each circle into six wedges.

Place dough wedges two inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with 1 tablespoon whipping cream.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly on baking sheet. Drizzle with orange icing. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Yield: 1 dozen

Orange icing

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice and vanilla. Stir in additional orange juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, if needed, to reach a drizzling consistency.

Yield: 1 cup

Comments are not available on this story.