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Italian Variety Christmas Cookies

Italian Variety Christmas Cookies

Merry Christmas, All! I hope you enjoy this undated recipe.

Makes 64 cookies.


  • 4 oz pitted dates, minced
  • 1-4.5 oz pkg bite sized Mission figs, minced (or similar)
  • 4 oz walnuts, minced
  • 3 Tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c vegetable shortening
  • 1 c honey
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c evaporated milk
  • 2 1/4 tsp rum extract or vanilla (divided use)
  • 6 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c raw wheat germ
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar (divided use)
  • 1/4 c raw sesame seeds (not toasted!)
  • 1 tsp anise or almond extract
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 3 Tbsp rainbow sprinkles (nonpareils) and/or red & green sugar


  1. Filling: After mincing the dates, figs and nuts as finely as possible, place them in a food processor with the marmalade, lemon zest and lemon juice. (Do not place whole fruits and nuts in the processor, or you may damage your equipment.) Pulse until very fine and sticking nicely together. Divide into 32 pieces and roll into 1/2-inch balls. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, cream shortening and honey until smooth. Using an electric mixer or hand whisk, mix in eggs, milk and two teaspoons of the rum extract.
  3. To the creamy mixture, gradually stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix by hand until well incorporated. Knead dough about two minutes. Divide into 4 dough balls. Refrigerate any dough not immediately used.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
  5. Chocolate Cookies: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the cocoa powder, cinnamon, and cloves until smooth. Place this mixture in a small bowl, cool briefly, and add one of the four dough bowls (keeping the others refrigerated). Mix and knead until uniform in color. Shape into 16 balls, rolling between palms. Roll in 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing them evenly apart; bake 10 minutes. Cool on rack.
  6. Sesame Logs: To another dough ball, add anise or almond flavoring and the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Blend well with hands. Break dough into 16 even bits. Roll into small logs and press in sesame seeds on all sides. Place evenly spaced on parchment-lined sheet and bake 10 minutes. Cool on rack.
  7. Crescents: Using the third dough ball, break into 16 bits. On smooth, clean surface, flatten them into 2″ x 6″ rectangles. Roll 16 filling balls between your palms to form thin ropes. Place filling ropes on dough rectangles. Fold dough over filling to encase it. Roll filled dough to a slightly longer length and curl into a crescent shape. Bake 8 at a time on parchment-lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
  8. Wreaths: With last dough ball, make 16 bits of dough. Using the remaining filling balls, make same as crescents, but curl into complete circles. Bake 8 at a time on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes. Cool on rack.
  9. Icing/nonpareils: When wreaths and crescents are completely cooled, mix powdered sugar, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of rum extract, and water until it makes a smooth icing. Brush a tiny bit around the cookies and immediately press into the sprinkles or colored sugar. (If you like more icing and a sweeter cookie, double the icing mix.)
  10. Once completely cool, arrange variety of cookies on platters and cover tightly. They will keep several days.

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