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Cookies are topped with sprinkles or encased around white chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips. NewsTribune photo/Cindy Rolando
(Ricotta Cookies) These yummy cookies are from my sister Susan’s collection of holiday treats that she learned along the way and now makes with her daughters. The ricotta cheese gives them a light flavor and the decorations added make them a beautiful work of art that inspires the holiday spirit! 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened 1¼ cups sugar 2 eggs 15 ounces ricotta cheese 2 tablespoons vanilla extract 4 cups flour ¼ teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda Colored sugar crystals Colorful sprinkles Chopped candy canes Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, sugar, eggs, ricotta cheese, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and baking soda. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Drop in teaspoon-sized lumps onto a greased baking sheet. Add a variety of sugar crystals, colored sprinkles and chopped candy canes for decoration. Bake for 10 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies. Note: These can be prepared in advance and stored in a sealed plastic container for at least 2 weeks. You can also substitute whole wheat flour for white flour and add chocolate chips to the mixture. The sugar crystals, sprinkles and candy canes can also be combined into the mixture before baking.
In “Recipes to Remember, Barbara Magro writes “There are no dessert recipes in the first section because someone always stopped at the local Italian pastry shop or went to Artuso’s on Arthur Avenue to pick up cannolis, sfoglliatelle or pinoli cookies which we ate while sipping our espresso and Italian liqueurs. It was only on the holidays that I remember my aunts, mother or grandmother baking or frying special desserts.” That really is a shame because the cookies I chose to make are delicious and were eagerly consumed by the members of the newsroom and some others. My first remembered experience with cookies was baking with my Grandma Heagy. She died when I was 6 so this is a pretty early memory. In reality, cookies are my first love when it comes to things I like to make. I like to experiment with other things but always will come back to cookies. Barbara also writes, “I hope you enjoy experimenting with these recipes as much as I enjoyed putting them together.” I put that to the test with this recipe as you will soon see.
Cindy's Experience I had just made lasagna the week before, so I thought I had enough ricotta left for this recipe. The expiration date was Dec. 2. But when I opened the container, it already smelled bad and had mold growing on it. It had never sat out or even was opened since then. Since this has happened to me before, I’ve decided that ricotta must go bad very quickly and will need to remember to buy only what I need at the time. So, since I had no plans to go out when I made this discovery, I hopped online to see what I could substitute for the ricotta and of course, got the cottage cheese substitute. Since that might work well for lasagna, I didn’t think it would be the same in cookies. I thought about putting it in the food processor but I think that would have been runny. I searched my freezer for options. There was no sour cream but I did have cream cheese. So guess what folks? These cookies quickly became cream cheese cookies. Since Barbara talked about experimenting, that’s exactly what I did. Pasticcino loosely translates as pastry or cake. And I think the result is wonderful. I used 16 ounces of cream cheese or 2 packages. I used different topping for the sprinkles as shown in the picture. After the first two dozen, I stirred in maybe 4 ounces of white chocolate chips for about a dozen and then finished with about 2 ounces of chocolate chips. I found them all a refreshing, very moist cookie. I think they would freeze well, too, if you’re anxious to start your holiday baking.
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