Great Grandma Francesca Cardile’s Cookies

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Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

I love learning old family recipes. Especially ones from my husband’s Italian family. He has made his paternal grandma’s Turdilli & Chinudille for many years now, but he hadn’t ever made the cookies that his maternal grandmother always made. 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 what it added. We found out that the recipe came from his great grandmother, and this year, I finally got to sit in and help make a batch of them (well, I documented the process, but then I got in there and practiced shaping the cookies, since that’s the unique part of this recipe). These cookies are light and fluffy and not overly sweet. 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. These go great with a hot cup of tea, and our toddler 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 on to the next generation.

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

This is what the consistency of the dough should look like:

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

Dino learning how to roll out the cookies:

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

Twisting the dough:

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

The final shape:

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

Finishing them off with an egg wash:

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile's Cookies

Great Grandma Francesca Cardile’s Cookies

Cookie dough:
9 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup baking powder
1 large orange
1 1/2 cups Crisco
9 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Egg wash:
2 egg yolks
splash of milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Put the flour, cinnamon and baking powder in a large bowl and mix together with a fork. Add the zest of the orange and stir to combine. Mix in Crisco with a fork or your fingers until the consistency resembles coarse sand.

In another large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer, adding one egg and a sprinkle of sugar at a time, until all 9 eggs and 2 cups of sugar are combined. Beat in the juice of the orange and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture to the eggs, beating until it is all combined. Great Grandma Francesca did the entire thing by hand, but we like to use an electric mixer until the dough gets too thick, and then we switch to a wooden spoon to finish incorporating the ingredients. The finished dough should resemble pizza dough. If it’s too sticky, you can add more flour.

To shape the cookies, put a light sprinkle of flour on the countertop. Grab a handful of dough and knead it on the counter a couple of times to get it nice and smooth. Break off a walnut-sized piece of dough and roll it between your palm and the countertop until it forms a smooth ball. Roll that ball into a log, about 8 inches long. Bring the ends of the log up next to each other to form a “U” shape, grab the bottom of the “U” with your other hand, and twist it a few times until the dough forms a tight spiral. Place the spiral on the counter and wrap it around your finger to form a circle. Pull the top end over the bottom and pinch it underneath slightly to close. Place onto a cookie sheet.

Beat the egg wash ingredients together in a small bowl, and brush lightly over each cookie. Bake at 350°F until the cookies have puffed up and are nice and golden brown on top, about 10-15 minutes.


Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

  • I wonder how anyone ever had the patience to make all those cookies! My grandmother used to make a similarly crazy amount. Definitely need to try these and see how they compare to my family’s!

  • this might be what we call knot cookies. they are yummy.

  • I think a lot of Italian families have similar cookies, with their own twists. It was really cool being a part of something that brings my husband so many fond memories. And my toddler absolutely adores them!

  • They’re so pretty! It’s good to see Dino keeping the tradition alive too!

  • ahr

    I don’t know what’s crisco ( 1 1/2 cups)…

    • Crisco is a brand of vegetable shortening.

  • Janet

    I came over from Hoosier Homemade today so I am a newbie to your blog but I had to say the cookbook is a precious item. To have the recipes and the handwriting is priceless let alone all the stains. Lovely, just lovely!!

    • Yes! I totally agree. It belongs to my husband’s mother’s cousin, so she will probably pass it along to her kids, but I made sure to take photos of a lot of the recipes so I have them to try out. Thanks so much for stopping by, Janet! 🙂