As I pulled them out of the oven today, I couldn’t stop smiling as I dusted them with powdered sugar snow and inhaled deeply of a scent that takes me back to the holidays of my childhood -- filled with snow-covered pine forests and friends and family visiting happily around a fireplace with plates of cookies balanced precariously on their knees.
These Italian tea cookies are lovely served with big mugs of nutty-flavored tea such as our Toasted Nut Brulee caramel nut tea with apple, cocoa, and essences of vanilla, hazelnut, chestnut, almond, and walnut; Caramel Almond vanilla almond tea; or Porch Sippin’ Pecan tea with cinnamon chips and pecan pieces.
Italian Tea Cookies
Italian tea cookies are traditionally made with ground almonds, but I made these with ground pepitas instead, and I love how they turned out. The dark green pepitas gave the dough a springy green tinge that transformed them from holiday cookies to the perfect addition to a springtime dessert tray.
If almonds aren’t your favorite nut, you can make your own version of deliciousness by replacing the almonds with seeds such as sunflower or sesame, or other nut varieties like walnut, pecan, pine nuts, or macadamias. No matter what seed or nut you choose, just be sure to grind them finely in a food processor or mortar and pestle so the cookies retain their unique buttery, crunchy texture.
You can also play around with the extract you use. Vanilla, and lots of it, is the traditional flavoring for these cookies, but there are other delectable options such as caramel, hazelnut, or maple that provide a unique twist.
Bake and Dust
Some cookies can handle a bit of extra baking, but these Italian tea cookies are best if you keep a close eye on them and remove them from the oven before they are browned. If you over-cook them they can become dry and powdery, and that is never a good result for cookies.
After the cookies are baked, leave them to cool for 5-10 minutes until they’re easy to handle. Then dust them generously with powdered sugar until they look like they’ve rolled in the snow. I find it easiest to set them on a bed of powdered sugar so their bottoms get coated, and then sift powdered sugar over the tops. Once they’re dusted, leave the cookies to cool completely. If you aren’t serving them right away, store them in an air-tight container or pop them in the freezer.
If you love tea cookies as much as we do, you may want to try some of our other versions like these tea cookies with icing. They are both delicious and pretty with a sprinkling of dried flowers atop the icing.
You could also try our cookies made with tea, where you’ll find recipes for Soft Molasses Cookies with Comfort Blend orange cinnamon tea, Sweet Milk Cookies with Brunch In Paris chocolate orange tea, or Shortbread with Abundance elderflower green tea with passionfruit.
Our Best Italian Tea Cookies Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup pepitas (or almonds, pine nuts, etc), finely ground
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups white flour
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar (to coat cookies)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
In medium bowl, mix butter, powdered sugar, and salt together until creamy.
Stir in ground pepitas and vanilla extract.
Add flour and mix well until no flour is visible.
Using teaspoon, scoop cookie dough and roll into a ball. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet an inch apart and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheet and cool for 5 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar and set aside to finish cooling.