Italian Cookies~ Vintage Ware~My Life as a Vagabond (repeat blog)

Please Note:  I am repeating this blog because these make great cookies for Christmas giving.  I’ve been struggling with a few health issues, but I feel confident I’ll be back in the game soon!

I am a cookie fanatic! This past week, I decided I wanted to bake a few of the Italian cookies I had eaten when I was a child in upstate New York.

As I’ve said before, “Cooking with Grace”, is one of my favorite Italian cookbooks because her recipes are so similar to the Italian American foods I remember my great Grandma Defranco serving. I decided to attempt a few of her cookie recipes, and I’m so happy I did!


Millie’s Orange Drop Cookies
Biscotti all’Arancia

For the cookie dough:
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c whole milk
2 large eggs
1 Tbso grated orange zest
1 tsp orange extract (I used a good extract and added a few drops of orange liquer)

For the Frosting:
1 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
4-5 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 tsp orange extract

Prepare oven with one rack on bottom shelf and the other on second from the top shelf.
Preheat to 350 degrees. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. In another bowl, sift flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

Pour milk into glass measuring cup and heat in microwave to warm (30 seconds). Add eggs and orange rind and extract to the measuring cup and mix with a fork. Add the milk mixture to the creamed butter-sugar-mixture and beat for one minute with mixer.

With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time until mixture is used.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonsfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, leaving 1″ space around each cookie.

Bake the first sheet for 8 minutes on the bottom rack; then transfer it to the upper rack and continue baking for 7 minutes. When you transfer the first sheet to the top, place a second sheet on the bottom rack, continuing to bake each sheet on the bottom rack for 8 minutes on the bottom rack and 7-8 minutes on the upper rack. Remove the cookies from the oven as they turn golden. Cool for 2 minutes on cookies sheets, then place on wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:
Combine confectioner’s sugar, milk, and orange extract–stir until dissolved.
use your index finger like a paint brush to frost each cookie on all sides, including the bottoms, and set them on a rack to dry. Be sure to cover in the glaze frosting to seal them–that way the glaze holds in the moisture.

Store in an air tight container up to one week or freeze them in a heavy duty freezer bag for up to three months. Try to remove as much air as possible from the freezer bag before sealing. You may opt to frost the frozen cookies after you’ve defrosted them rather than before.

These are perfect with a cup of coffee or hot tea. A little reminiscent of a scone–only a bit more sweet.




My second batch of cookies are called:

Chocolate Spice Cookies
Biscotti Speziati al Cioccolato

I’m too tired to print out the entire recipe, but if you love Italian American food, I really encourage you to get your hands on this book. The darker cookies in the first photo are the Chocolate SPice Cookies. They aren’t particularly chocolate tasting–more spice. I’m still searching for the ones I had as a kid which I remember as tasting more like chocolate.

I have not tried the following recipes but they’re pretty close to what I made. Grace’s book called for currants–I didn’t add them, I did however add chopped pecans. I used a vanilla powdered sugar glaze rather than the cocoa glazes here. You really need to cover the entire cookie with the glaze to keep them nice and moist.

These cookies are a cake like cookie.


Another thrift store find:
TOTAL: $1.80
As a kid, my family moved so often, I practically grew up in a car, stopping at roadside diners and truck stops to eat. The cups in the photo above remind me of those cafes. I remember my parents would sometimes try to drive straight through from the west coast back to New York. On a few moves they would stop at midnight–or later–to have coffee. I usually ordered a hot chocolate. Searching for my shoes in the dark and climbing out of a loaded car into an often freezing cold night, made sitting in a warm, well lit diner, feel like a special treat. I suppose my attraction to diner ware has something to do with those memories.
My mother and I sat down one day and wrote down every move we had ever made. I just looked at the list and see she forgot to add Houston, Texas.
The old photo below was taken on one of our 66 (possibly 67) moves.
I’m the girl standing up on the back seat holding something that resembles food in my hand. I have no idea what it is. I often stood while we drove. Remember when seat belts were just those hard metal things that hurt your bum when you sat on one? I just kept trying to shove them out of the way or stuff them under the back seat cushion. Times have changed.

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