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Homemade Italian Butter Cookies

Homemade Italian Butter Cookies

Homemade Italian Butter Cookies are better then any bakery style cookies you will ever eat. These chocolate dipped cookies are buttery and crispy, but they melt in your mouth. I promise that there is no need to make a trip to an Italian bakery once you see how easy it is to make them yourself.

A pile of Butter cookies that have been dipped in chocolate and decorated with colorful sprinkles, next to a bowl of jam.

This is not an Italian cookie that my mother or grandmother ever made. During the holiday season they would make other traditional Italian cookies such as Anginetti, cuccidati, chocolate spice balls, almond cookies and so on. But the only time we ever had Italian butter cookies was when someone bought them from an Italian bakery. 

When my sister told me they were her favorite cookies, especially the sandwich ones with jam in the middle, I started on a quest to find an authentic Italian butter cookie recipe. I tried several recipes, and they all use the same basic ingredients, but I found that they did not work as easily as they said they would. The cookies tasted good, but the dough was either too stiff or too soft, so either I could not pipe them, or they spread out too much in the oven.   

How to make Homemade Italian Butter Cookies

After many batches and revisions, I think I came up with an easy recipe that tastes even better than the cookies you buy at the Italian bakeries. The best thing about these cookies, is that they are made with simple ingredients and you can really make the dough into any shape you like.

Ingredients for butter cookies on a black background.

Ingredients, tips, and substitutions

  • Unsalted Butter: Your butter should be at room temperature and soft. 
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: I like the way powdered sugar works in this recipe because it completely emulsifies into the butter so there is no graininess. This helps to create a melt in your mouth cookie.
  • Egg Yolks: Make sure that you are using large eggs that are at room temperature. This is important because the size of the egg yolk is going to determine the amount of moisture in the cookie dough. 
  • Vanilla Extract: You can substitute almond extract or any other flavors such as lemon, orange, anise, etc. 
  • All Purpose Flour: I normally make these cookies with AP flour, but I have used half AP and half pastry flour (because I ran out of AP flour) and they came out just as good.
  •                Measure the flour by spooning the it into the measuring cup and then leveling it off with the flat side of a knife. This will ensure that you are not adding more flour than you need.
  • Baking powder: This will give the cookies a little rise.
  • Salt: Just enough to intensify the flavor of the butter
  • Ingredients for decorating
a bag of melting chocolates, a jar of sprinkles and a bowl of jam.

Decorating ingredients

  • Chocolate melting Wafers: I like dark chocolate, but if you are not a fan you can use semi-sweet, milk or even white chocolate. Chocolate chips can be substituted for melting wafers.
  • Raspberry or Strawberry Jam or preserves: Again, you can use any flavor jam you like, or you can substitute Nutella for the jam.
  • Sprinkles or Nonpareils:  Traditionally these cookies are dipped in chocolate and then topped with sprinkles, but you can leave them off or substitute chopped or crushed nuts.
4 process photos of making the butter cookie dough.

1.      Cream the butter: Using an electric mixer (hand) or a stand mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until it is creamy

2.      Whip in the Confectioners’ Sugar: Stiff peaks will form in your butter.

3.      Beat in the eggs and vanilla: Add the eggs one at time and mix completely before your next addition. Then add the vanilla and beat well.

4.      Mix in the dry ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then slowly add the flour mixture into butter mixture until it is fully incorporated and the dough forms. The dough will be sticky.

Star cookies on a baking mat ready to go in the oven.

Piping the dough and baking the cookies

1.      Use a heavy-duty pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Fill the bag only 1/2 to 2/3 full so that you can more easily pipe the dough out.

2.      Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

3.      To make the logs:  Hold the bag at a 45° angle, and pipe 2-3-inch-long logs, using a knife to release the dough or flatten the ends once the dough is released.

4.      To make the stars: Hold the bag vertically over the baking sheet and pipe the dough straight down onto the parchment paper. I give it a twist to release the dough. Then dip a small spoon in flour and use the back of the spoon to create in indentation in the center of the cookie.

5.      Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.

6.      Bake the cookies in a preheated 350° oven for 12-14 minutes. The cookies should just be starting to turn golden brown around the edges. 

7.      Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Butter cookies on a cooling rack.

Decorating the cookies

8.      Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk and microwave at 15 second intervals, (whisking between intervals) until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a short glass or jar wide enough to easily dip the cookies into. The cookies will be delicate and this makes it easier to dip the cookie without breaking it.

9.      Dip one end of the log cookies into the chocolate and place on a sheet of parchment paper then add the sprinkles and allow to dry before storing or serving.

10.  Make the sandwiches by spreading a small amount of jam on the back of a cookie then covering it with another cookie before you dip it in chocolate.

11.  For the stars I like to use a small spoon to fill the center of the cookie with chocolate and decorate with the sprinkles.

Baking tips:

For the best results when making these buttery cookies follow the recommendations below:

  • Start with room temperature ingredients.
  • It is important to measure your flour by using the spoon method described above, so you have the best consistency to pipe the dough and to create the right texture in the cookie.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the your bowl when mixing in the flour so that everything combines quickly and you don’t over mix the dough.  
  • I don’t recommend using a disposable piping bag. I find that they break when trying to push the dough through the large star tip. 
  • You will have to exert some pressure to get the dough through the tip initially. The warmth of your hands will soften the dough as you go along and make this easier. 
  • It can be tricky to get the cookies to release on to the parchment paper, but it keeps them from sticking to you baking sheet. Silicone baking mats make this task a lot easier. 
  • I use the side of a knife to flatten out the ends of the cookies, but you are going to dip one end of the cookie in chocolate, and that will cover any imperfections.
  • Don’t skip refrigerating the dough. Because the dough will soften a bit it as you pipe it, it will be important to allow cookies to cool and set in the refrigerator before baking them. Otherwise, they will spread too much, and lose their shape.
  • I used the Ateco 827 large open star tip, but you can use the piping tip of your choice.
  • Watch the cookies carefully as they tend to go from light to too dark very quickly.
  • Variations: Fill the center of the star cookies with a bit of jam or a candied cherry.
  • You can make various shapes. Change the shape of the cookie by forming the logs into “s” shapes or circles.
  • After decorating the cookies place them on parchment or wax paper to dry. They will release easily. I once made the mistake of putting them on a wire rack and then could not get them to release without breaking.  What was I thinking?!
A pile of oval butter cookies dipped in chocolate next t a bottle of colorful sprinkles and a bowl of jam.

Storing and Freezing Italian Butter cookies

These cookies keep very nicely in a cool dry place. Stored in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper, they will stay fresh for up to a week. If you want to make these ahead, you can freeze them for up to 3 months, before they are decorated. Allow them to thaw at room temperature before you decorate. They are a delicious cookie to make ahead and add to your Christmas cookie tray.

FAQ’s

What is the difference between classic butter cookies and a sugar cookie?

The main difference is the ratio of butter to flour and sugar. Butter cookies have a higher ratio of butter to flour, while sugar cookies will have a higher ratio of sugar.

Is it okay to use melted butter instead of softened butter?

In this recipe I would not recommend using melted butter as it will change the texture of your cookies. You want a crispy but melt in your mouth cookie and melted butter usually results in a chewy cookie which is not what we are going for here.

Other cookies recipes you will love!

Nonna’s Homemade Italian Pineapple Cookies

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lemon Biscotti with Pistachios

Italian Orange Cookies

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this recipe for Homemade Italian Butter Cookies or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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A pile of oval butter cookies dipped in chocolate next t a bottle of colorful sprinkles and a bowl of jam.

Italian Butter Cookies

These authentic Italian chocolate dipped cookies are melt in your mouth tender and buttery. No need to ever buy bakery cookies with this easy recipe.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Refrigerate and decorate 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 32 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 40 cookies
Calories 80 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Large star pastry piping tip
  • 1 Pastry bag heavy duty
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Butter unsalted, softened
  • 1 cup Confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Egg yolks large
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt

Decorating

  • 6 oz Melting chocolate or chocolate chips, Dark or Semi-sweet
  • Decorating sprinkles or non-perils
  • 2 tbsp Strawberry or Raspberry Jam or Preserves

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Cream butter with and electric mixer. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until stiff peaks form.
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one. Beat in the vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat until it is completely absorbed into the dough.
  • Fill a pastry bag fitted with the star piping tip half way up with the cookie dough. Pipe 2" long cookies on to the a parchment lined cookie sheet. Space the cookies about 2 inches apart as the cookies will expand.
    To make the star shaped cookies, hold the pastry bag vertically above the cookie sheet as you pipe the dough out. Then use a the back of a small spoon dipped in flour to make a well in the center of the cookie.
    Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the cookie sheet to the preheated oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. The cookies should just be turning golden brown along the edges. Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before decorating.

Decorating the Cookies

  • Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring between intervals until completely smooth.
  • Pour the chocolate into a short glass. Dip one end of the cookie in the chocolate and decorate with the sprinkles. Set the cookies on parchment or waxed paper to dry.
    To make the sandwich cookies, spread a small amount of jam on the back of a cookie and press the back of a second cookie, then dip one of the sandwich into the chocolate and decorate with the sprinkles.
    To decorate the stars, use a small spoon such as a demitasse spoon to drop chocolate into the well in the center of the cookie. Add sprinkles if desired.

Notes

Baking tips:

For the best results when making these buttery cookies follow the recommendations below:
  • Start with room temperature ingredients.
  • It is important to measure your flour by using the spoon method described above, so you have the best consistency to pipe the dough and to create the right texture in the cookie.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the your bowl when mixing in the flour so that everything combines quickly and you don’t over mix the dough.  
  • I don’t recommend using a disposable piping bag. I find that they break when trying to push the dough through the large star tip. 
  • You will have to exert some pressure to get the dough through the tip initially. The warmth of your hands will soften the dough as you go along and make this easier. 
  • It can be tricky to get the cookies to release on to the parchment paper, but it keeps them from sticking to you baking sheet. Silicone baking mats make this task a lot easier. 
  • I use the side of a knife to flatten out the ends of the cookies, but you are going to dip one end of the cookie in chocolate, and that will cover any imperfections.
  • Don’t skip refrigerating the dough. Because the dough will soften a bit it as you pipe it, it will be important to allow cookies to cool and set in the refrigerator before baking them. Otherwise, they will spread too much, and lose their shape.
  • I used the Ateco 827 large open star tip, but you can use the piping tip of your choice.
  • Watch the cookies carefully as they tend to go from light to too dark very quickly.
  • Variations: Fill the center of the star cookies with a bit of jam or a candied cherry.
  • You can make various shapes. Change the shape of the cookie by forming the logs into “s” shapes or circles.
  • After decorating the cookies place them on parchment or wax paper to dry. They will release easily.

Nutrition

Serving: 40cookiesCalories: 80kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 0.2gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 62mgPotassium: 16mgFiber: 0.01gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 155IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 0.04mg
Keyword Butter, Chocolate, Italian, Christmas, Holiday
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