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Cookies without Nuts
Easter cookies
Easter Cookies and/or Easter Cakes
Originated from: Terlizzi, Puglia, Italy
Occasion: Easter
Contributed by: Gemma Forliano

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For Dough [Makes 3 large cookies]

4 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour *
1/2 cup melted lard (e.g., Tenderflake)*
1 tablespoon baking powder
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest mixed with 1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of finely grated orange zest mixed with 1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Decoration

3 cooked "small" sized hard-boiled eggs in their shell (one for each cookie made)
2 beaten egg yolks for brushing
Raisins, multi-colored sprinkles for decorating, and/or other cake decorations

* Measurement is approximate


Mix ingredients and work into a cookie dough. If the dough is too soft add more flour, if it's too hard add more lard.

Wrap the dough in clear plastic and let it rest for an hour or so.

On a floured board, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Note that if the dough is too thin it will burn and break easily. If it's too thick it might not cook right -- so the thickness of the cookie dough is very important.

Cut out the cookies in the shape of a large doll, basket, donkey, crescent moon or star. The cookies should measure about 7 to 9 inches high and 4 to 6 inches wide. As there are no commercial cookie shapes that come in this size, it's best to draw out the shape on a cardboard and then use the cardboard as a guide.

Place a hard-boiled egg (in its shell) on each large cookie made with the dough.

Brush the top of each cookie with egg yolk (including the hard boiled egg).

Decorate the cookies.

Place the cookies on cookie sheets that have been greased (or are lined with silicon baking mats). *

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cookies are golden (if it turns brown it will taste burnt).

Serve at room temperature.

**For best results use aluminum cookie sheets that are sold in "Dollar Shops" [e.g. "Titan Foil"] and then line them with silicon baking mats -- France's Demarle's "Silpat" are the best. Cheaper aluminum cookie sheets do not conduct heat as well as the more expensive cookie sheets available in specialty shops which surprisingly is a good thing. In aluminum cookware the bottoms of the cookies don't cook faster than the tops, resulting in more evenly-cooked cookies (No burnt cookie bottoms!).


According to Gemma Forliano in her hometown of Terlizzi, Puglia, prior to World War II Easter cookies [sometimes referred to as "Easter cakes"] were given on Easter Sunday to children as gifts but the cookies were actually supposed to be eaten on Easter Monday when people went to the countryside and had picnics with their extended families (The same tradition was upheld in Molise). In Puglia as in Molise the cookies were named after their shapes (e.g., a cookie shaped like a basket was known as a "cestino"). All of the cookies came with hard-boiled eggs in their shells. In Terlizzi, all the cookies, including "la spousa" (the bride), were decorated with multi-colored sprinkles (unlike in Molize where the doll-shaped cookies were decorated with silver sprinkles). When Gemma Forliano immigrated to Canada with her family, her mother continued to make the cookies for the Easter holidays. Of course, in this country, the kids ate them on Easter Sunday as there were no special celebrations on Easter Monday (Too cold here to go on a picnic!). Gemma Forliano always enjoyed her mother's Easter cookies, but she never did get around to asking her mother how she made them. As her mother is presently ill and in a nursing home, she can no longer provide the exact recipe. Nonetheless Gemma does remember that her mother incorporated a lot of lemon and orange zest. She also added vanilla extract. However, she is not sure if her mother used lard or olive oil and whether or not she included lemon juice in the recipe. Gemma tried Mary Melfi's Easter cookies and found them very similar to what her mother used to make. Gemma, being an artist, was able to draw the shape of a donkey, basket, bride and a man on cardboard (The man-with-the-hat-shaped cookie was called "uomo" and not "spouso"!). Mary used the shapes to cut out the cookies. The dough she used for the cookies was similar to the one used in Molise for Easter cookies, but obviously orange zest and vanilla extract were added. The photo was taken by Mary Melfi.

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