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Ciambelline / Nonna’s Italian Cookies

These Italian cookies also known as “Ciambelline della Nonna” are a very popular treat that have been enjoyed for generations. They are a simple and rustic cookie. They’re perfect while enjoying with a cup of coffee or tea or dunking in your morning caffe latte.

Ciambelle in a blue basket.


 

Baked ciambelline which also mean donut in english, but of course they aren’t what we consider donuts. These are a crunchy and soft cookie that are sold in every bake shop and grocery store I would imagine all over Italy. To tell the truth they are one of my favorites and I find it very hard to say no to.

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Ingredients to make Nonna’s Cookies

  • Flour – all purpose flour at least 11% protein
  • Egg – one whole large egg room temperature
  • Sugar – granulated sugar
  • Butter – softened butter, if you use unsalted butter then add a bit more salt.
  • Lemon – zest of a whole lemon or orange zest if you prefer
  • Baking powder
  • Milk – room temperature, I use 2% or whole milk for the cookies
  • Salt
  • Vanilla – vanilla extract or almond extract
Recipe ingredients.

For room temperature ingredients remove the ingredients from the fridge 30-60 minutes before using. It’s important to use good quality butter. As the butter quality has gone down in store brand butter, which can cause the cookies to be dry and lack flavor.

Why use higher protein flour?

Using a higher protein flour with at least 11 – 12% protein count will keep your cookies from spreading. And don’t forget to chill the dough for at least 30-60 minutes before baking the cookies, this also helps with not spreading.

How to make Nonna’s Italian Cookies

In a large bowl or stand mixer whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, salt and baking powder.

The dry ingredients whisked in a mixing bowl.

Make a well in the middle and add the egg, sugar, zest, milk, vanilla and butter.

The wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients.

Mix together with a fork, spatula or the flat beaters, form a dough, do not over work the cookie dough.

The dough mixed in the mixing bowl.

Move to a flat surface and gently knead to form a compact dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

The dough formed in to a ball on a wooden board.

Remove the dough from the fridge into long ropes.

The dough formed into ropes and made into circles.

Close the ends with wet fingers and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheets.

The unbaked cookies on a parchment paper baking sheet.

Bake until golden, let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies baked on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

The History of Italian Cookies

Cookies in Italy known as biscotti have been a part of Italian culture for centuries. Many Italian cookie recipes have been passed down through generations of families, with each recipe having its own unique history and story.

Some of the most popular Italian cookies include cantucci, sprinkle cookies and cookies made with pasta frolla. These cookies vary in shape, size, and flavor, but they are all delicious.

Why Italian Cookies are So Popular

Italian cookies are popular for a lot reasons. Often they are made with simple ingredients that you probably have at home now. They’re also very versatile and can be flavored with a variety of ingredients, from almond paste, lemon zest, or cocoa powder. They are also perfect for gifting and sharing with friends and relatives.

Cookies stacked and in a blue basket.

Here are some classic Italian cookie recipes for you to try at home

  1. Biscotti: These crisp and crunchy cookies are perfect for dipping in coffee or tea. They’re often flavored with almonds and are twice-baked for extra crunch.
  2. Amaretti Cookies: These cookies have only four ingredients which makes them a fast and easy cookie recipe. They are also gluten and dairy free too, which means almost everyone can have one!
  3. Pasta frolla cookies: These thin and crispy cookies are made using a special iron that imprints them with a decorative pattern. They’re often flavored with anise extract or vanilla. They are a favorite Italian Christmas cookie.
  4. Italian Pinch cookies/Pizzicati:These are a delicious and crunchy cookie recipe. Traditionally filled with your favourite Jam or why not a little Nutella? 
  5. Italian Butter cookies: A buttery simple Italian Cookie. These Italian Butter Cookies are perfect anytime. Serve them as a holiday cookie or with tea or coffee in the afternoon.
  6. Baci di Dama: These simple cookies are a very popular Italian treat, known as Baci di Dama or Lady Kisses. A buttery almond cookie filled with a chocolate ganache.

How to store the Ciambelline

The completely cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for up to 3-4 days, or in the fridge for up to 8-10 days. They can also be frozen in an freezer container or bag, they will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.

The raw cookie dough will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge. The unbaked cookies can also be frozen. Freeze until firm on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. They can be baked from frozen. They may take a couple of minutes longer to bake.

Three cookies stacked and one leaning on it.

So if you are looking for a traditional Italian cookie then I hope you give these Ciambelline a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Three cookies stacked and one leaning on it.

Ciambelline / Nonna’s Italian Cookies

Rosemary Molloy
These Italian cookies also known as "Ciambelline della Nonna" are a simple and rustic cookie. They're perfect while enjoying with a cup of coffee or tea.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 7 cookies
Calories 258 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt*
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (90 grams total)
  • cup + 1 ¾ tablespoons butter** (softened & cubed) (100 grams total)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½-1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • tablespoons milk (I use 2% or whole milk)

*If you use unsalted butter then use ¼ teaspoon of salt.

    **It's important to use good quality butter. As the butter quality has gone down in store brand butter, which can cause the cookies to be dry and lack flavor.

      EXTRAS

      • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)

      Instructions
       

      • In a large bowl or stand mixer whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, salt and baking powder.
      • Make a well in the middle and add the egg, sugar, zest, milk, vanilla and butter.
      • Mix together with a fork, spatula or the flat beaters, form a dough, do not over work the cookie dough. Move to a flat surface and gently knead to form a compact dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
      • Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C. Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
      • Remove the dough from the fridge into long ropes, 8 x 1 inch / 21 x 2 cm long, if you wish you can make them half that size for small cookies.
      • Close the ends with wet fingers and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheets.Bake until golden, approximately 15-20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!

      Notes

      The completely cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for up to 3-4 days, or in the fridge for up to 8-10 days. They can also be frozen in a freezer container or bag, they will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
      The raw cookie dough will keep for up to 2-3 days in the fridge. The unbaked cookies can also be frozen. Freeze until firm on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. They can be baked from frozen. They may take a couple of minutes longer to bake.
      The recipe can also be doubled.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 88mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 312IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg
      Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

      6 Comments

      1. Not sure what I did wrong. I measured everything as stated on the recipe. Dough was very crumbly and I could not get a dough consistency. Would like to try again. Please help!

        1. Hi Rose, it could be the butter you used if it’s too crumbly just add a bit more to bring the dough together or if you prefer you could add a bit more milk. (did you add the + 1 3/4 tablespoons?).Let me know. Take care!

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