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Cookies without Nuts
Sicilian lemon cookies
Sicilian Lemon Cookies (with Crisco, milk, sugar, lemon and orange zest; glazed, topped with sesame seeds)
Originated from: Ricanati, Taormina, Sicily
Occasion: Any time & special times
Contributed by: Mrs. Rosina Melfi

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For the dough*
8 eggs
7 cups flour
8 teaspoon Magic baking powder
1 pound Crisco (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk

For the glaze
Juice of 1 lemon
2 to 3 cups icing sugar

For decoration (optional)
about 1/2 cup sesame seeds

*Makes about 300 cookies


For the glaze

Place the strained juice of 1 lemon in a bowl and gradually add 2 cups of icing sugar to it. Add more icing sugar if the glaze is not thick enough. (N.B. Prepare the glaze prior to making the cookie dough, or while the cookies are actually being baked, as the cookies need to be still warm when the glaze is applied.)

For the cookie dough

Sift the flour with Magic baking powder 3 times.

Cream eggs with sugar and Crisco (room temperature) till the mixture is creamy.

Add milk. Mix well.

Add the finely grated zest of 1 orange and its juice, as well as the finely grated zest of 1 lemon to the mixture.

Gradually add the flour. The resulting dough should be on the soft side, so that the cookies will be moist, rather than hard like sweet taralli.

Form 5 thin long logs.

Process one log at a time, wrapping those that are not in use in plastic wrap.

Cut about an inch of dough from a thin long log; lightly flour it and shape it into a thin taralli-style log -- about 5 inches long, 1/2 inch wide. Shape the log into a half-bow.

Place the half-bows on cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 F degrees oven until golden (15 to 20 minutes).

As soon as the cookies are baked, while they're still warm, using a pastry brush, brush on the glaze.

Sprinkle a few sesame seeds on the cookies (optional).

Allow the cookies to dry at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Serve immediately, or freeze the cookies until needed.


Years ago Mrs. Rosina Melfi learned how to make these Sicilian cookies from her neighbor who was born in Ricanati, Sicily in the mid 1920s. Her neighbor always included seasame seeds on this treat as this was part of the culinary tradition in her town. However, it seems that in some other parts of Sicily this style of cookie is often presented without seasame seeds. In North America this style of lemon-flavored cookie is often referred to as "tarallucci," though the classic "tarallucci" comes in a circular shape, rather than in a half-bow. "Tarallucci" cookies are generally associated with the Southern Italian mainland, Campania in particular. Mrs. Rosina Melfi notes that these Sicilian lemon cookies are difficult to get right as the dough has to be rather soft, making it hard to shape it (If one were to add more flour, the cookies would be a lot easier to shape, but then they would end up tasting more like sweet taralli than moist lemon-flavored cookies). However, even though these Sicilian cookies are difficult to make, she believes they are worth the effort as they are a very tasty treat. The cookies in this entry were made by Mrs. Rosina Melfi and the photo was taken by her niece, Mary Melfi.

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