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Gluten Free Dairy Free Italian Wedding Cookies Recipe

So light and crispy, we bet you can't eat just one of these sweet, nutty treats!

Italian Wedding Cookies

For the printable recipe, click here.

​A many-named cookie

You may know these nutty, delicious cookies by the name Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, snowball cookies, or pecan sandies--and then again, you may know these to be the names of different cookies altogether. 

Whatever you call it, this particular cookie is delicately crunchy, full of scrumptious nuts, and coated in sweet powdered sugar.

Some versions contain cinnamon, anise, or other spices, and some use a specific nut, while others use a mixture.

Recipes and traditions vary by country, region, and family, but one thing is for sure: the recipe we bring you today is simply delizioso! 

Italian wedding cookies

Traditional Italian wedding cookies

The Internet can be a confusing place when it comes to nailing down the specifics of a thing, but here's what I believe I have gleaned in my research on Italian wedding cookies: 

At Italian weddings it is traditional to have a whole sweets table full of cookies and treats in addition to (or sometimes in place of) a large wedding cake. 

While there may be many, many traditional Italian cookies served at a wedding, these luscious, light, nut-studded gems are one common variety. 

Another common Italian cookie served at weddings and other special occasions are anginetti, which are typically nut-free, soft Italian cookies, flavored with lemon extract, and coated in a sweet glaze made with confectioner's sugar. Since anginetti are also common at Italian weddings, you might find recipes for "Italian wedding cookies" that refer to these lemony cookies or similar varieties that are sometimes called Italian sprinkle cookies or Italian Christmas cookies. However, for our purposes, those will have to be recipes for another day!

Today we focus on the ethereal, nut-filled, non-lemony variety, which can be scooped or rolled into balls, or (more commonly) shaped into crescents, or mezzalune.

Crescent-shaped Italian wedding cookies

A Paleo/Gluten Free Italian Wedding Cookies Recipe . . .

For our Italian wedding cookie recipe, we'll be skipping the all purpose flour in favor of a gluten-free/grain-free blend of cassava flour and potato starch. 

And of course, there's plenty of nuts! 

​You might be wondering if you could just use almond flour in place of the ground nuts, but you actually want to start with whole  (or chopped) nuts and blitz them up in the food processor until you achieve what I would consider a very fine chop or a slightly coarse grind. The important thing is to stop processing before it all turns into nut butter. 

Almonds are quite traditional, but I like to use a mixture of ground almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. 

For flavoring, I like to keep things really simple: no spices, just a combo of vanilla and almond extracts to enhance the nutty flavor and add a bit of depth to the sweetness. 

Since we're keeping things dairy free, we use a combo of palm shortening and coconut oil in place of butter. I love the hint of coconut flavor the virgin coconut oil lends, but using all coconut oil would be a bit overpowering and would alter the texture a bit as well. 

Crescent-shaped Italian wedding cookies

​What about the sugar?

I touch on this a lot in my posts, but here's my stance on sugar:

While powdered sugar is typically not part of a paleo protocol, per se, I use organic powdered sugar that has been refined in a way I feel comfortable with, sans chemical bleaching agents, etc. Side note: I actually find that organic powdered sugar tastes better, too! 

This is all to say that while coconut sugar or honey might be more technically "paleo" (and I do favor those when I can), sometimes powdered sugar is simply what the recipe requires, and I am okay with that. 

​Even "healthy" sugars are not doing anyone any favors in excess, so everything in moderation, right?

Italian Wedding cookies

All that and vegan, too?

Yes!! These delicious cookies are amazingly paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, baking-powder free, and VEGAN!

If you've been looking for great dairy-free, eggless cookie recipes, make Five Monsters Italian wedding cookies your new cookie crush. 

​The best Italian wedding cookies recipe ever?

We'll be happy to claim that title if you're offering, but you be the judge!

With simple ingredients available at your typical grocery store, our recipe is both accessible and scrumptious. 

We're fairly confident you'll agree that this easy recipe for Italian wedding cookies makes the perfect cookie for everything from weddings to baby showers to your annual holiday party! 

Italian wedding cookies

Here's what you'll need:

  • 3/4 cup palm shortening

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

  • 2 cups organic powdered sugar, divided

  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

  • 1 T pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

  • 1 1/2 cups cassava flour

  • 2 1/4 cups potato starch

  • 1 3/4 cups coarsely ground/finely chopped nuts (I use a mixture of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts)

Here's what you'll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. 

  2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the palm shortening, coconut oil, 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, salt, and extracts with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Set the remaining 3/4 cups powdered sugar aside in a small dish for later.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cassava flour, potato starch, and ground nuts. 

  4. With the mixer off, add half the nut mixture to the sugar mixture. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds to begin to incorporate. Add remaining dry ingredients with mixer off. Then return to low speed to begin and increase to medium speed to incorporate completely.

  5. Use a small cookie scoop (1 T) to scoop balls of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1/2-inch apart. If desired, you can roll the balls between your hands to create a smoother, rounder surface; or use your hands to work each dough ball into a crescent shape, which is typical for these crunchy, nutty cookies in Italy. 

  6. Bake the cookies at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or till just barely golden brown around the edges. Place each cookie sheet on a cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool on the pans for about 5-10 minutes before carefully rolling each of the warm cookies in the reserved powdered sugar. This recipe does produce a delicate cookie, so roll gently. Alternatively, you could sift powdered sugar over the tops of the cookies. This will save a lot of powdered sugar, but will result in a slightly different aesthetic than the traditional powdered sugar coating.

  7. Repeat scooping and baking dough balls as needed, depending on the size of your baking sheets--if re-using a baking sheet, just make sure the baking sheet has cooled before placing fresh dough balls on it. 

  8. Allow cookies to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Store well-sealed at room temperature. 

For the printable recipe, click here.

Italian Wedding Cookies

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Hey Y'all!

I'm the Monster Momma.

I'm a Christ-follower, wife, mother to five sweet paleo monsters, writer, and

paleo food fiend.

Join me and my family on our paleo journey!

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