Italian Christmas Cookies (knots)

Christmas cookies should be shared with friends and family, and this will make plenty for that purpose.

I remember these from when I was growing up. My stepmother's mom made them every year, but when she died, she kind of took the recipe with her (or so we thought, till now)

I had been on a long quest to try to duplicate them, but they never came out quite right.  Now I have a copy of the original recipe, which I have posted here for safe keeping.



  • 8 Cups All Purpose Flour (sifted well)
  • 8 Eggs
  • 8 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 Sticks softened salted butter
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar 

1. Mix together with your hands until a firm dough is formed.
2. Roll into knots and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes
or until bottoms are slightly golden brown.
3. Move cookies from baking sheet to a cooling rack as soon as they come out of the oven, as the heat from the pan will continue to cook them, and they easily become over-done.
4. Once cookies are cool, they can be decorated by dipping upside down in a thin icing (see recipe below) and then dipped into colored sprinkles / jimmies.


Icing:

  • Evaporated Milk
  • Confectioners sugar
  • Vanilla extract

Start with a cup of confectioners sugar in a large mixing bowl and add evaporated milk 1/4 cup at a time while hand mixing with a fork until smooth and blended well. You can alternate adding more sugar and milk until you get the desired consistency (thick enough to stay on cookie, thin enough to easily swirl the fork in). Once icing is ready, slightly flavor it with vanilla to taste.

Banana Bread (fat free)

This is a fantastic recipe to experiment with, changing the bananas to 2 cups of any pureed fruit and adding in additional ground spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. I have even done an oatmeal variation where I replaced the bananas with 2 cups of cooked and cooled oatmeal with good results, and one where I doubled the recipe and used 2 cups of cooked oatmeal and 2 cups of chunky applesauce and threw in some cinnamon, to make 2 loaves of apple cinnamon oatmeal bread.

Use your imagination and post a comment to share what comes out good.

  • 6 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 handful of uncooked old fashioned oats (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mash the bananas and sugar together.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Stir in the banana mixture and the vanilla, till thoroughly blended.
  5. Stir in the raisins.
  6. Pour into an ungreased nonstick loaf pan*.
  7. Sprinkle oats on top.
  8. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
  9. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  10. Cool completely before slicing.

*If you don't have a nonstick loaf pan, or the one you have isn't of very good quality, you will have to grease the pan. Keep in mind that doing this would make the loaf no longer fat free.

Moravian Ginger Spice Cookies

I found this recipe in a cookbook, at my local public library, almost 30 years ago. I wish I knew the title of the book, but unfortunately I didn't write that relevant fact on the piece of paper I copied it to. It seems to be a modernized version of an old American classic that has been around since colonial times, and has the reputation of being the "World's Thinnest Cookie". (read more)

These cookies are better than any gingerbread or ginger snaps I have ever tasted. These are the ones I ate through my entire pregnancy to combat morning sickness (or in my case, all day sickness). When softened, even people that hate gingerbread seem to love this cookie. It's always been one of my daughter's favorites ever since she was really small. It's one of the few cookies that she keeps begging me to make.

Please follow the instructions carefully. Do not skip the part where you let the dough sit for 2 days. It really is an important step in order to be able to roll them out really thin.. Also, make sure your oven temperature is accurate. Test it with an oven thermometer. If your oven is too hot and you are using a small cutter, these cookies can easily burn before you even have the next batch cut.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses (measured in a greased measuring cup)

Instructions:
  1. In a food processor, process shortening and brown sugar till creamy.
  2. Add molasses with motor running.
  3. Combine first 5 ingredients together, add to processor, and process till it starts to clump.
  4. Scrape dough onto counter and knead lightly. Add more flour if the dough is very sticky.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in an air tight container, at room temperature, for 2 days.
  6. Roll very, very thin and cut with a round cutter.
  7. Bake at 325°F for 5-10 minutes on a greased cookie sheet. The length of time will depend on the thinness of the cookie and size of your cookie cutter. Smaller cutters make quicker baking cookies.
  8. Cookies will be soft when removed from the oven. Cool slightly before removing from pan. They will harden on cooling.
  9. For crisp cookies, store in an air tight container.
  10. For softer cookies, store with other soft cookies, overnight, then by themselves in an air tight container. It's important to remove them from the container with the other cookies or they will become too soft and fall apart.