Both my Mother-in-law, and my husband's oldest sister, made these Calabrian style Italian Easter cookies every year, and would give us many of them to enjoy. They are called "i'nguti" in their Reggio Calabria town's dialect. If you are Italian, you may know them by another name, as it seems almost every southern Italian town or district has another name for them. My mother-in-law passed away many years ago, and we no longer live near my husband's sister, so we have not had these cookies in a few years and felt nostalgic for them. Years ago, I watched my mother-in-law make them, and I copied down the recipe. After a quick phone call to my sister-in-law, to make sure I had all the ingredients and method right, I decided to finally tackle making them myself. Was I glad I did! The recipe makes a lot of cookies, but they keep well and the plain ones are wonderful with a cup of coffee or tea any time of the year. I imagine you could halve the recipe if you'd like to make less, but they are light and not too sweet, so you will find you can enjoy eating quite a few at a time. (All photos, and photo collages, will increase in size for easier viewing if clicked on)
Italian Easter Cookies
12 cups of flour, divided into 6 cups and 6 cups -- have more flour available if needed--it is almost an entire 5 pound bag of flour.
3 cups sugar
12 extra large eggs for batter
12 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 pound butter or margarine.
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Have extra egg yolks beaten, for the glaze--I used 4 egg yolks in total.
If you desire to make the bunny shape, holding the egg, clean as many eggs as you like (I used one dozen) and dye them if you desire.
*Important: The eggs used in the bunny shapes are raw --they will fully cook in the oven along with the cookie holding them.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and then lower to 375 F
Melt butter or margarine and let it cool.
In mixing bowl with beater blade, add 12 eggs and mix --do not over beat.
Then add sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and butter or margarine to the egg mixture and mix well.
Then add 2 cups of flour and mix
Add 2 more cups of flour and mix
Add two more cups of flour and mix until entire mixture is smooth.
Place the remaining 6 cups of flour on a clean board or counter and make a well in the middle. Pour in the mixing bowl mixture into the center of the flour. Using clean hands, mix the wet and dry ingredients together, kneading until it forms a smooth ball. You may have to add a small amount of flour if mixture is too wet. I did not need to do this.
Clean your hands, and pour 1 tablespoon of oil on your hands and rub the oil all over the ball of dough--this helps to keep it from drying out as you make the cookie shapes.
Cut a piece of the dough off the dough ball and roll into a rope about ten inches long and about 3/4 inch wide (see photo above). Loop once to hold the egg and twist the top around twice to form Bunny ears (see photo). Place raw egg in the bottom loop. Flatten out a small amount of dough, about a quarter inch thick and cut two strips, which you then crisscross over the egg. pressing the ends into the loop to hold egg in place. Using a thin spatula, pick up cookie and place on lightly greased cookie sheet, then brush lightly with egg yolk. Do not crowd cookie sheet as the cookies will rise.
You can also cut pieces of dough and roll them into shapes. I made "S" shapes. circles, and twisted (See photo above). Brush lightly with egg yolk to glaze them.
*Important: make sure to add the non egg holding shapes to a separate cookie sheet, as they will cook faster than the Bunny shape.
Place the egg holding bunnies in the 375 F oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until edges are turning lightly brown. The raw eggs will cook inside the cookies. If you place two cookie sheets in the oven at the same time, switch the sheet positions midway through the baking time.
Place the non egg holding cookies in a 375 F oven and bake approximately 20 minutes, or until edges lightly brown.
Cool on a rack. Enjoy!
My mother-n-law did not refrigerate the bunny egg holding cookies, but you can if you'd like. The non egg holding cookies store well in a cookie jar.
I am having Easter dinner at my house this year and it will be nice to have the cookies as part of our dessert, along with my New York Cheesecake that I will make with a gluten free crust for the members of my family that must eat gluten free.
Our community held their annual Easter Egg Hunt last Sunday, our granddaughter, our daughter and son-in-law and Grandma and Pop Pop all attended. Unfortunately my son and daughter-in-law and grandsons could not attend, as they have all been passing around colds to each other.
The park lawn was studded with over 7,000 candy filled plastic Easter Eggs! There were different divisions and charting times according to age, and our granddaughter was in the 0-2 year old group that went first. The Big Carrot announced the start and egg gathering began! The Easter Bunny was in the area for photo taking, and a local children's gym had some mats and play equipment available for the children to enjoy. The community playground was also in the area. As you can see by the photos my granddaughter had a wonderful time! She likes running as much as picking up eggs. It was a beautiful sunny 70 degree day, so we could not have asked for anything better!
I wish you all a very Happy and Blessed Easter!
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