Sicilian Easter Cookies [Melt-In-Your-Mouth]

Sicilian Easter Cookies

Sicilian Easter Cookies [Melt-In-Your-Mouth]

Diving into the world of Sicilian Easter cookies unfolds a delightful narrative of family, tradition, and culinary craftsmanship.

These adorable, sweet treats, wrapped around eggs and often shared among family and friends during Easter time in Sicily, embody more than just a basic cookie recipe.

They are a testament to the enduring traditions that my mother has continued within our family, crafting each batch with love and the intent of bringing warmth to our breakfast table.

Perfect for dipping in coffee or milk, these cookies are not just food; they’re a piece of heritage.

What Is Sicilian Cuddura?

Cuddura, also known as pupa cu l’ova in Sicily, are traditional Italian biscuits crafted during the Easter season, symbolizing a rich tapestry of cultural celebration and gifting.

These Italian Easter cookies are a labor of love, often involving the entire family coming together in an Easter ritual to knead the dough, cut out intricate shapes, decorate, and finally bake.

The essence of cuddura lies in its sweet biscuit base with a distinctive feature: a whole, uncooked egg encased in dough on the top, which becomes fully cooked through the baking process.

This egg is not just an ingredient; it is a profound symbol of the resurrection of Christ, imbuing the cookies with deep religious symbolism.

The variety of cuddura shapes offers endless narratives, from doves and ducks to bunnies, baskets, nests, bells, and crowns, each carrying its own story, wish, or piece of religious symbolism.

These woven cookies, adorned with sprinkles or meringue icing in bright colours, are more than just Easter treats; they’re vibrant gifts shared with family and friends to spread joy and blessings.

The term cuddura, or its plural cudduri, traces back to the Greek word ‘kulloura’, meaning crown, reflecting its origins during the Greek colonisation of Sicily.

Despite their similarities to Koulourakia in terms of base ingredients and shapes, traditional Sicilian Easter cookies, or cannatieddi, distinguish themselves with unique presentation and flavourings, showcasing the rich Sicilian heritage and culinary artistry.

sicilian cuddura

How To Make Sicilian Easter Cookies With Eggs?

Beginning the process of making Sicilian Easter cookies requires removing the eggs from the refrigerator a few hours before to bring them to room temperature.

This step is crucial for preparing the cookies and baking them without the risk of cracking.

Preheat the oven to 350F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until frothy, about 2 minutes, then stir in oil and milk.

Adding grated lemon zest and vanilla enriches the flavor, followed by sifting flour and ammonium carbonate into the bowl.

This method ensures a smooth, flavorful dough ready for shaping and baking.

Authentic Sicilian Easter Cookies Recipe

Sicilian Easter Cookies Ingredients

For Embedding Eggs In The Cookies

  • 12 large eggs, room temperature (optional, for embedding an egg in each cookie)

Cookie Dough

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for shaping dough
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder or ammonium carbonate
  • 2 tbsp festive sprinkles for decoration

Instructions

  • Begin by removing the eggs from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to start, to bring them to room temperature. This step is crucial for preparing the cookies efficiently and to prevent the eggs from cracking during baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. This ensures your cookies will not stick and are easy to remove after baking.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until frothy, which should take about 2 minutes. Then stir in the oil, milk, and the grated lemon zest from 1 lemon, along with vanilla for flavor.
  • Carefully sift the flour and ammonium carbonate over the mixture, then use a wooden spoon to stir until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky—perfect for shaping.
  • Prepare a small bowl with vegetable oil to aid in rolling the dough. Break off a piece of dough the size of a golf ball, then dip your finger tips in the oil and roll the dough into a rope about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick and 14 inches (35 cm) long. Fold in half, twist, and join ends to form a circle, placing an egg in the center of the dough.
  • Cover the dough with colored candy sprinkles, then bake for 25 minutes or until the authentic Sicilian Easter cookies are lightly browned on the bottom and golden on top. Finally, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Tips For Perfect Sicilian Cuddura

  • Room temperature butter makes it much easier to work with the dough compared to cold butter. It blends seamlessly, creating a smooth base for your cookies.
  • Similarly, using room temperature eggs can help them cook quicker in the oven, ensuring a uniform texture in your Easter delights.
  • To keep the dough’s consistency perfect, minimise handling. Dough that becomes too warm turns harder to work with, compromising the texture of your cookies.
  • Utilize paper guides by tracing your desired shape(s) onto baking paper, then cut out and press out onto the dough. This method ensures uniformity and precision in your cookies.
  • For creating decorations or patterns, a pizza slicer can be employed for slicing thin, straight strips. This tool is excellent for adding decorative touches with ease.
  • Basting your authentic Sicilian Easter cookies before baking can give them that desired golden brown sheen, and helps sprinkles to stick better, enhancing the visual appeal.
  • Given that every oven is different, it’s crucial to adjust the cooking time. Keep an eye on your cookies and remove them when they’ve turned golden brown at the edges.
  • When rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes, using extra flour can prevent the paper from sticking to the dough, facilitating a smoother baking process.

Origin Of Sicilian Easter Cookies With Eggs

The tradition of making Sicilian Easter cookies with eggs, known as cuddura cu l’ova or pupa cu l’ovu, is a cherished Easter celebration in Sicily, deeply rooted in the act of gifting these traditional Easter cookies to family and friends.

These cookies, often shaped like doves or bells with an egg nestled in the center, symbolize a crown or cylindrical shape, echoing the island’s rich cultural heritage.

The recipe for these cookies might vary from one household to another; my mother, for instance, prefers using bread dough for a less sweetened dough, giving the baked egg a more harmonious taste when paired with warm milk for breakfast.

Beyond just a breakfast cookie, these Easter treats are infused with extra flavor through freshly grated lemon zest and vanilla extract, and beautified with colored candy sprinkles, though traditionally, the eggs are not painted.

This culinary practice not only connects us with our Sicilian connection but also with generations past, as the knowledge and recipes passed down from relatives like my sister Ayesha continue to enrich our family gatherings.

The use of ammonium carbonate as a leavening agent hints at the ancient origins of these cookies, yet each bake of 12 large cookies carries forward a time-honored tradition into modern celebrations.

traditional Sicilian Easter Cookies

Why We Love These Italian Easter Cookies?

We cherish these cute and colourful Italian Easter cookies not just for their appearance but for the joy they bring into the baking process.

They are easy to make, with dough that’s a pleasure to work with, making baking a fun, stress-free activity.

The traditional Sicilian Cuddura can be shaped into traditional shapes or get creative with your own designs, introducing a new Easter tradition that gets kids involved.

It’s a fun activity that results in edible gifts for Easter, combining the delightful combo of freshly baked egg and biscuits for a sweet treat.

Dunk them in a hot cappuccino for an extra bit of indulgence, or make a small batch of 5 cuddura, with options to double or triple the recipe for gifting.

What Is Ammonium Carbonate?

Ammonium carbonate might sound like a relic from the past, but before baking powder became ubiquitous, it was the leavening agent of choice for baking.

When used in cookies, it helps them puff up beautifully on the baking sheet, ensuring a crisp exterior and soft interior.

Though it releases a distinctive odor when the oven door is opened, the final taste of the cookies remains unaffected, proving it’s safe to bake with.

This ingredient can still be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store, adding a traditional touch to your Sicilian Easter cookies.

What Can Ammonium Carbonate Be Replaced With?

For those who might not have ammonium carbonate on hand or prefer to use a more commonly available leavening agent, baking powder serves as an excellent substitute.

In traditional Sicilian recipes, 3 tsp of baking powder can replace the ammonium carbonate to achieve a similar rise in your cookies.

This adjustment allows bakers outside of Sicily to replicate the authentic Sicilian Easter recipe shared in this post, ensuring that the essence of Sicilian Easter cookies is preserved, no matter where they are baked.

Do The Eggs Need To Be Hard Boiled Before Placing Them In The Cookie?

No, the eggs do not require boiling beforehand. It is recommended to bring the eggs to room temperature by taking them out of the fridge a couple of hours before you start preparing your cookies.

To further prevent the eggs from cracking during baking, place them in a bowl of hot tap water while you prepare the dough.

This step ensures that the eggs are gently acclimated to the baking process, embedding them perfectly within the sweet dough of the cookies.

Substitutions And Variations For Sicilian Cuddura

If ammonium carbonate is not available, baking powder can be substituted to ensure your cookies come out perfectly every time.

For those looking to add a fancy touch, consider drizzling a powdered sugar glaze over the cookies fresh out of the oven for an extra sweet finish.

Variations For Italian Easter Cookies

  • Infuse extra flavour into your dough by adding Lemon/orange zest, orange blossom water, or vanilla essence during the kneading These aromatic additions bring a delightful depth to the cookies.
  • Elevate the appearance and taste with extra toppings. Generously sprinkle crystalized sugar, sprinkles, 100s & 1000s, or raisins before baking to add texture and color.
  • Create coloured Easter eggs by submerging them in a bowl of boiling water mixed with vinegar and food colouring. Let them cool and soak the uncooked eggs in the solution for 5 minutes for vibrant hues.
  • For a glossy finish, to ice the cookies, skip basting with egg before baking. Once cooled, embellish them with regular icing or meringue icing for a festive touch.
  • Achieve decorative edges by utilizing a fluted pastry wheel or ravioli wheel, or simply press gently with a fork as you would for a pie crust. This technique adds elegance to each cookie.
  • Transform your cookie dough into pocky sticks by rolling out the dough until it’s about 5mm / 0.2 inches thick. Slice into small strips, 10cm / 4 inches long, and bake after topping with egg wash and sprinkles for 15 minutes or coat with melted chocolate once cooled for a unique twist on traditional shapes.

Italian easter cookies

FAQs About Sicilian Easter Cookies Recipe

1. Why Are Italian Cookies Dry?

Traditionally, Italian cookies are designed to be dry, crispy, and crunchy, unlike the typical chewy cookie. This texture allows them to withstand dunking in warm drinks or sweet wine, making them the perfect classic Italian cookie for any occasion.

2. How Long Do Italian Cookies Last?

Both bakery and homemade cookies can be stored at room temperature for two to three weeks or up to two months in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, cookies maintain their quality in the freezer for eight to 12 months.

3. How Long Can You Store Italian Cookies?

Store your baked Italian Cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. To freeze, prepare them ahead of time and freeze them without glaze for extended enjoyment.

4. How Do You Store Homemade Italian Cookies?

After baking, allow your cookies to cool before placing them in a sealable plastic bag or container. For optimal freshness, store them in the fridge where they can last for up to two weeks.

5. How To Make Easter Cookies Without Cookie Cutters?

To shape your Easter cookies without cookie cutters, use a small, sharp knife or pizza cutter. After rolling out the dough, you can cut out shapes with the help of a stencil made from cardboard, parchment, wax, or plain paper for simple shapes like hearts, shamrocks, eggs, and flowers.

6. What Do I Do With Baked Egg?

Once your baked egg is ready, peel it and eat it perhaps in a fresh bread roll with salami and cheese, or mash it with a fork and mix it with a bit of olive oil, salt, and lemon juice for a delicious dipping sauce. If not eating immediately, store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

7. What Can I Do To Make Sure My Eggs Cook In The Oven?

Here are a few tips to ensure your eggs cook thoroughly in the oven: Make sure the eggs are at room temperature to heat up quicker. Always pre-heat your oven to 180°C / 350°F before placing your cookies in, and use medium to large eggs rather than extra large for more uniform cooking.

8. How Many Cookies Does This Recipe Make?

This recipe yields 12 large cookies, offering flexibility to bake some without the egg in the center for a variety of textures and flavors in your Easter spread.

9. How Long Do These Italian Easter Cookies With Eggs Keep For?

Cookies with eggs should be refrigerated and are best enjoyed within a week. For those made without an egg in the center, they can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months, ready to Defrost at room temperature when you’re ready to indulge.

10. How Do You Eat The Baked Egg In The Center Of These Easter Cookies?

These cookies are ideal for dunking in a coffee or a glass of milk, while the egg is typically eaten separately. Enhance your enjoyment by drizzling the hard-boiled eggs with olive oil and a pinch of salt, perfect alongside some bread for a satisfying breakfast, lunch, or quick snack.

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21 thoughts on “Sicilian Easter Cookies [Melt-In-Your-Mouth]”

  1. These Sicilian Easter cookies truly melt in your mouth! The flavors are so authentic, just like my nonna used to make. A must-try recipe for anyone looking to bring a taste of Sicily to their holiday table.

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  2. Wow! These cookies are a game-changer for our Easter celebrations. They’re soft, buttery, and perfectly sweet. My family couldn’t get enough of them!

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  3. I made these for Easter brunch and they were a hit! The texture is spot-on, and the hint of citrus adds such a refreshing touch. I’ll definitely be making these again next year.

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  4. These cookies are absolute perfection! The recipe is easy to follow, and the end result is a batch of cookies that are tender, flavorful, and utterly irresistible. Highly recommend!

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  5. These Sicilian Easter cookies are like a taste of springtime in every bite. They’re so delicate and fragrant, with just the right amount of sweetness. I’ll be making these year-round!

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  6. I’ve never had Sicilian Easter cookies before, but now I can’t imagine celebrating without them! They’re tender, buttery, and have a beautiful aroma that fills the kitchen. A new favorite for sure!

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  7. I made these cookies with my kids for Easter, and we had a blast! The recipe was easy for them to help with, and the cookies turned out delicious. They really do melt in your mouth!

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  8. Just made these for Easter, and they were a hit! The perfect balance of sweetness. Followed the recipe exactly, and wouldn’t change a thing.

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  9. Loved the texture but found them a bit too sweet for my taste. Next time, I’ll reduce the sugar a bit. Still, a fantastic recipe!

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  10. These cookies brought back memories of my Sicilian grandmother’s kitchen. Followed the recipe to the T, and they came out perfectly.

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  11. I had to bake mine a little longer than the recipe suggested to get them just right. Maybe it’s my oven. They were delicious though!

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  12. I added a splash of orange zest to the dough, and it really made the flavors pop. Highly recommend this little tweak!

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  13. This was my first time making any type of Easter cookies, and I was so impressed with how they turned out. Will definitely make these again next year!

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  14. I substituted almond extract for vanilla in the icing and loved the added depth it gave. Such a versatile and forgiving recipe!

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  15. The detailed steps were so helpful! I’m not an experienced baker, but these cookies were easy and fun to make.

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  16. Made these with my kids for a family Easter gathering, and everyone loved decorating them. Tasty and great for engaging the whole family.

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  17. The recipe was easy to follow, but I found the dough a bit sticky. Added a little more flour, and it was fine. They turned out great!

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  18. Had a bit of a mishap with the baking time, and they came out too dark on the bottom. Will watch them more closely next time, but the flavor was still fantastic!

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