These buttery crunchy Italian Carnival Cookies are a delicious way to welcome Carnevale. From Frappe to Castagnole this cookie recipe is one of the most popular!
I love simple Italian Cookies, and these are one of my favorites. They resemble the taste and texture of a sugar cookie with a delicious buttery flavor. They are very popular at this time of the year, dipped in chocolate and decorated with nonpareils or sprinkles just in time for Carnevale. So good I can never stop at one!
What is Carnevale?
Carnevale is a celebration that lasts approximately two weeks and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday or as some of us know it as Pancake Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday. It is mostly a time for children to dress in costumes and have rides around the towns of Italy throwing confetti.
- Butter – salted or unsalted butter, I use salted
- Vanilla – vanilla extract
- Sugar – powdered/icing sugar also known as confectioners sugar
- Egg – large egg room temperature
- Flour – all purpose flour with at least 11% protein
- Baking powder
- Salt – if you use unsalted butter then add a bit more salt
- Sprinkles – rainbow sprinkles also known as jimmies are also used
- Chocolate – semi sweet or milk chocolate melted good quality
- Nonpareils – also known as hundreds and thousands or you can use multicolored sprinkles these are the most popular to use
What is the best butter to use
Be sure to use a good quality butter, apparently since 2022, store brand butter quality is not what it used to be. Less fat could mean a dry not so tasty cookie.
Can I use chocolate chips?
I don’t really recommend using milk, semi-sweet or white chocolate chips because chocolate chips don’t melt as well as a good quality chocolate would.
Why use room temperature ingredients?
With cakes and other baking, it’s always better to use room temperature ingredients. So, take any cold ingredients out of the refrigerator an hour ahead of time or sooner if it’s cool in your kitchen.
Room temperature ingredients blend easier, creating a silky batter or dough, which will help to create a light tender baked good.
How to make Carnival Cookies
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand beater cream the butter, vanilla and sugar on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat.
Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.
Move to a flat surface and form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Roll the dough into 1/4 inch or a little bit less in thickness, and with a round cookie cutter make cut outs. I used a large round pastry tip to cut out the middle of the cookie. Place the cut out cookies on a prepared baking sheet.
You can decorate the cookies with nonpareils before or after baking. Bake in a pre-heated oven. Let the cookies cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cookies are cool, dip in melted chocolate and decorate.
How to add the sprinkles or nonpareils before baking
The best way to add them is lightly pressing the sprinkles also known as jimmies or nonpareils onto the top of the cookie dough. This way they won’t roll off the dough.
It’s not a good idea to brush the dough with an egg wash or milk and sprinkle them on, because when baked they will melt into the cookie, and it won’t look too pretty.
Cooke baking tips
- To keep your cookies from spreading be sure to use a higher protein flour 11-12%. Refrigerate your cookie dough and formed cookies before baking. It is also a good idea to refrigerate cookie dough for at least 12-24 hours before baking, this creates a more flavourful cookie.
- If your cookie dough is too dry (crumbly) add some softened butter to the dough to soften it up and then proceed with recipe.
- Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone baking mat.
- Make sure your oven temperature is accurate before baking. It makes all the difference between a perfect baked cookie or an under baked or burnt cookie.
- It’s always best to bake the cookies on the middle rack and one cookie sheet at a time, this way they are more evenly baked.
Can the cookies be made ahead of time?
Yes the dough can be made ahead of time. Cookie dough should be tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and or placed in an airtight bag. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
How to store the Carnival Sprinkle Cookies
The baked cookies should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for up to 2-3 days at room temperature or up to 5-6 days in the fridge.
How to freeze them
Freeze the completely cooled cookies in a freezer safe bag or container. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. The unbaked cookie dough can also be frozen in a freezer bag for up to 2-3 months in the freezer.
If this is the year that you want to celebrate Carnivale the Italian way, I hope you give these cookies a try and of course let me know what you think! Enjoy!
More Carnivale Recipes
Italian Carnival Sprinkle Cookies
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (at least 11% protein) (140 grams total)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 pinch salt*
- ⅓ cup + ½ tablespoon butter (softened) (80 grams total)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons powdered/icing/confectioners' sugar (sifted) (50 grams total)
*If using unsalted butter then add ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- 5-6 ounces semi sweet, dark or milk chocolate (good quality) melted
- 2-3 tablespoons sprinkles, jimmies or nonpareils (more or less)
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand beater cream the butter, vanilla and sugar on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat.
- Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.
- Move to a flat surface and form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough into 1/4 inch or a little bit less in thickness, and with a round cookie cutter make cut outs. I used a large round pastry tip to cut out the middle of the cookie. Place the cut out cookies on 1-2 parchment paper lined baking sheets.
- You can decorate the cookies with nonpareils before or after baking. Chill the cookies in the fridge for approximately 15-20 minutes while the oven is pre-heating.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C).
- Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn a golden brown. Let the cookies cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Dip in melted chocolate and decorate let the chocolate firm up before serving. Enjoy!
Julia Towson says
What size cookie cutter do you recommend for this recipe for Italian carnival cookies?
Hi Julia, mine were about 2 1/2 inches, they were smaller but not mini. Hope that helps. Let me know.
Can I use bread flour, which is high in protein, in your cookie recipes? Thanks. I can’t wait to try the recipes.
Hi Vee, yes I sometimes use a really high protein flour and they come out really good. Let me know how it goes. Take care!