These lemon-flavored cookies are called “anginetti” in Italian, but among Italian-Americans they’re commonly referred to as lemon drops, and they can be found at many Italian bakeries and Italian grocery stores.
Anginetti means egg biscuits or egg cookies, and they aren’t called egg cookies because of the eggs in the dough but because they puff up in the oven and their shape looks a bit like an egg, especially when glazed with white lemon icing.
To make the cookie dough, I used a very fine grater to zest a lemon, and mixed together the lemon zest and some sugar.
Then I mixed in eggs, vegetable oil, milk, and a little vanilla extract.
I stirred in flour, salt, and a Tablespoon of baking powder. A Tablespoon seems like a lot of baking powder, but that’s what makes the cookies so puffy and “egg-shaped”
I rolled them into little balls, and to make sure the dough didn’t stick to my hands and the cookie shapes were smooth, I rinsed my hands in water before rolling each dozen or so cookies. When I make onigiri (rice balls) I also use water to keep my hands from sticking. It’s a good idea to even keep a small bowl of water beside you to dip your hands in whenever you need to.
When they came out of the oven, I iced them while they were still hot with a glaze I made from powdered sugar and the juice of the lemon.
I put a piece of parchment paper underneath the cooling rack to catch the icing that was dripping off.
These lemon drop cookies are supposed to have a very thin glaze, so if you ice them while they are hot and then set them on a rack like this, all the excess glaze will melt off and leave a thin layer of icing.
They’re supposed to be a little dry (all the better to eat with tea or coffee)!
I love these cookies because they’re not too sweet or heavy, and they’re kind of tangy from the lemon zest in the dough and the lemon juice in the icing.
You could also get creative and try making these cookies with lime or orange instead of lemon! The recipe below makes about two dozen.
Anginetti (Lemon Drop Cookies)
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grate the zest of the lemon into a mixing bowl and stir it together with the sugar. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a separate small bowl and set aside. You can use a small fine mesh strainer (I used a tea strainer) to make sure the seeds and pulp don’t get into the bowl.
Add the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla to the mixing bowl with the sugar. Stir it together well with a fork or a whisk.
Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Wet your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick, and roll small ping-pong-ball sized cookies. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed to prevent sticking.
Bake the cookies for ten to fifteen minutes, or until they feel hard when you tap the tops of the cookies. While the cookies are baking, make the icing by putting the powdered sugar in a bowl and stirring in the lemon juice, a little at a time, to make a smooth icing. Use just a spoonful of the lemon juice to start, because a little goes a long way!
When the cookies are still hot out of the oven, spread a little icing on each one and set them on a drying rack to cool. A thin layer of the glaze will spread out to cover each one as they cool down. Make sure to put parchment or wax paper underneath the cooling rack to catch the drips.
Ice each batch of cookies when it comes out of the oven, and when they are cooled you can store them in a sealed container and enjoy them especially with tea or coffee :)