Rossella Rago's Italian Meatball Cookies are sure to delight and surprise your guests.

Like many of us, Rossella Rago has taken cooking lessons from her grandmother. Her grandmother is such a wealth of culinary knowledge that Rago hosts a show with her called “Cooking With Nonna” on Instagram and YouTube. 

And earlier this year, Rago released her a cookbook featuring 130 recipes for Italian comfort food that stemmed from her time living with her grandmother. 

One recipe that impressed and delighted us from “Cooking with Nonna: Sunday Dinners with La Famiglia” is “Italian Meatball Cookies,” which Rago says are “a chocolatey spiced cookie that recall the Italian American cookie trays of yesteryear.”

Her version is meant to look even more meatball-ish with a red glaze and white nonpareils. 

Here’s grandma’s treasured recipe:This Christmas cookie has been a family favorite for 60 years

For the picture-perfect sugar cookie:Try this royal icing recipe

Italian Meatball Cookies

Makes: About two dozen cookies

Ingredients for the cookies:

  • 3 cups 00 or all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice, optional
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 packets Vanillina powder or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
  • ½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for the glaze:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 to 8 drips red food coloring or gel food coloring (you can add more or less to achieve a very red color)
  • White nonpareils or white chocolate shavings to decorate

Instructions to make the cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, spices, and espresso powder.
  2. In another large mixing bowl, combine the shortening, Vanillina or vanilla extract, and sugar. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs until fully incorporated. Beat in the dry ingredients until just absorbed. Using a spoon or your hands, mix in the nuts and chocolate chips. 
  3. Working with 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are firm. Cool on a wire rack before glazing.

Instructions to make the glaze:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and food coloring until smooth.
  2. Dip the tops of each cookie into the red glaze and allow the excess to drip off the cookies over a wire rack. Decorate with white nonpareils or white chocolate shavings so the cookies resemble a meatball topped with sauce and grated cheese. 


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