"Juiced-Up" Italian Knot Cookies

'Round Iaciofano HQ we like to cook with liquor. Just a splash...or two...

Now, we're not really heavy drinkers. Marmo gets completely toasted from on glass of wine (I have to cut her off) and The Box, despite his size turns loopy after a couple of light beers (he used to have a preference for Tequiza before they discontinued the brand).

But a few dribbles, splashes or drops of liquor can really improve a recipe. Consider this one: Italian Knot Cookies. My family usually makes these around Christmas time. But they are light and fresh and colorful, so they remind me of springtime and Easter...and they are in cute little knots, so they're great for weddings or such celebratory feasts.

The cookie part is a soft, slightly sweet and yellow (lots of eggs!) batter - almost like a cookie version of a Challah bread. The icing is just a light, sweet coating, dribbling down the sides and into the crevices of the knots. It's generally just confectioners sugar and water, but Marmo and I "juiced" it up with – what else? – limoncello.

As we've discussed, limoncello is a traditional lemon flavored liquor, found in Southern Italy. It's an after dinner drink, sipped to ease digestion. It's sweet and intensely lemony. John and I experimented with making our own a while back – remember that?

If you don't want to make your own, you can certainly buy a nice bottle. Keep it stored in your freezer, as it's best served chilled. And then you can bust some out with these cookies and everyone will be feeling that warming spring air, right in their very bellies.

What You Need:


5 cups of flour

6 eggs - well beaten

1/2 lb of butter at room temperature

4 oz cream cheese

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla

5 teaspoons of baking powder


1/2 cup Confectioners sugar - more if needed

1 teaspoon of Limoncello

water if needed

Garnish: multicolored, round sprinkles

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slightly grease a cookie sheet, or line it with parchment.

Beat together butter, cream cheese and sugar in a standing or hand-held mixer until light and creamy.

Add in the eggs and the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and mix to combine.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet. You may have to add more flour if it's an especially humid day.

The dough should come together easily and not be too sticky. You need to be able to roll the dough and tie it into knots.

Start grabbing pinches of the dough right out of the bowl. Roll them on a board that is VERY lightly floured. Try not to add too much flour at this point. Roll them until the strands are about 1/2 inch thick and about 4 inches long.

Tie the the dough strands into simple knots and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, until they are light golden in color and the bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the icing:

Measure the Confectioners sugar into a small bowl. Pour the Limoncello over the sugar and whisk together until combined. You don't want this mixture to be too runny - it will zoom right off your cookie! If you need to thicken it, just add more Confectioners sugar. If you need to go a little thinner, add a touch of water (you don't want to overwhelm your cookie eaters with Limoncello at this point).

Drizzle the icing over the tops of the cookies and decorate with the multicolored sprinkles. The icing will dry so that you can store them all together in a happy little tin. Or take them to work with you in a plastic bag. Just don't accidentally sit on them like I did. Sat-on cookies don't have the same appeal. My co-workers still ate all of them, though....

Makes about 80 cookies (so you might want to share).