These elegant, lightly sweet cookies are a Calabrese tradition, passed down through the generations and enjoyed annually at Christmas and Easter.
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Keeping family traditions alive through food is one of my favorite parts of the holidays. And one of the best parts of marrying into an Italian family is learning their traditional holiday recipes. I’m doing my best to take copious notes and keep these family favorites going for the next generation.
My husband gets together with his dad and uncle to make his paternal grandma’s Turdilli & Chinudille for Christmas for many years now, but he hadn’t ever made the cookies that his maternal grandmother always made until fairly recently.
His mom’s cousin Lorraine came over to show us how to make these beauties. She said that his grandma might not have put the orange juice in when she made them, but we really liked the flavor that it added. We found out that this recipe actually came from his great grandmother, who was from Calabria, Italy.
I was so excited to finally get to sit in and help make a batch of these traditional Italian Christmas cookies, as well as documenting the process. The shaping of the cookies is one of the most interesting parts, and it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it.
These cookies are light and fluffy and not overly sweet. They go perfectly with a hot cup of tea. The orange flavor is really nice. The recipe makes a lot of cookies (and this is apparently half the size of the batch she used to make!). The tricky part is shaping them, but you can really make them any shape that you want to, as long as they’re all a consistent size.
Our son was a toddler when we got together to make these, and he absolutely loved them (they’re great for teething!). I’m so glad I got to be part of this tradition, and now it’s something that we can pass down to our son and enjoy for years to come.
I forgot to note exactly how many cookies this recipe made, but I’ll keep a tally next time and update the recipe here. I’m including some photos to use as visual cues to help you in your Italian Christmas cookie baking adventures.
This is what the consistency of the dough should look like:
My husband learning how to roll out the cookies:
You have to twist and twirl the dough:
The final shape:
Finishing them off with an egg wash:
Looking for more dessert recipes? Check out some of our family favorites:
- Rich Cocoa Brownie Bites
- Elvis-Style Frozen Bananas
- Sweet + Salty Dark Chocolate Clusters
- 5-Ingredient Samoa Cereal Bowls
- Orange Scented Cannoli Dip
- Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Vanilla Icing
- Dessert Nachos with Fresh Baked Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
- Tolon’s Strawberry Basil Shortcake
- Cranberry Orange Snickerdoodles
- Bourbon Bacon Pecan Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust
- Chocolate Cream Pie with Orange Zested Whipped Cream
- Ricotta Cookies
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