Not many people realize that when they walk into their local Italian bakery, they're actually witnessing a tradition that got its start during the 1800s. Just like many other food establishments and cuisines that have made their ways over to the US, the tradition of Italian bakeries has been a staple of many states, such as New York and New Jersey, for centuries, thanks to the immigrants who helped to build the cornerstones of these culinary empires. There's nothing like walking into one of these bakeries and getting the scent of a freshly-baked olive loaf or the sweet, tempting smell of freshly-baked biscotti.
As with every bakery, there are cookies that are loved far more than others and some that don't get nearly enough love. It's tough to rank cookies such as these since each one brings with it a unique memory and flavor, but alas, sometimes, it must be done. While every Italian cookie is surely a winner, there are some whose shelves will always be empty by the end of the day. We're throwing it back to everyone's favorite childhood memories of the cookies that seem to be so abundant at the Sunday morning breakfast table (especially if you grew up in an Italian-American family).
Seemingly everyone's favorite (especially among kids) are the famed butter cookies. These are the cookies that have scents that smack a person in the face as soon as they walk through the door and just a simple look reminds us of how buttery, sweet, and absolutely delicious they are.
The beautiful thing about these cookies is that they could be outfitted in anything and were often chocolate-dipped and covered in sprinkles. However, there were also cookies that were sandwiched together with a layer of delicious raspberry filling in the middle. Sometimes, a candied cherry or a bit of jam would be placed in the center of a cookie, and these came in round shapes. No matter which type one grabbed out of the cookie box (which was always tied shut with white and red bakery string), they were bound to be delicious.
These cookies are far easier eaten than they are made. The process is a long one and plenty of care goes into it, along with a decent amount of patience. However, that's all part of the allure and beauty in rainbow cookies.
Nowadays, they can be found in grocery stores in crazy flavors such as pumpkin spice and birthday cake, however, cookie purists know that traditionally, the red, white, and green cookies are the true MVPs. Each dense cake layer is filled with the thinnest spread of raspberry cream and the entire thing is dipped in chocolate to create a satisfying shell, making these the crowd favorite by all standards. These are the cookies that usually have empty shelves by the end of the day!
Pignoli cookies are incredibly underrated as they are a bit old-world, but that doesn't make them any less delicious. These cookies are created with amaretto which gives them a unique and distinct flavor and texture.
They're slightly chewy and tender which makes the interior such a great contrast to the exterior, which is covered with pignoli, or pine nuts. These tiny, teardrop-shaped nuts are buttery and have a subtle flavor, but are so addicting with the bit of amaretto flavor that comes through in each satisfying bite. The base of these cookies also consists of almond paste and eggs, which accounts for their dense, chewy texture.
Biscotti are another complicated cookie simply because of the fact that they need to go through a double-baking process. The first time they're baked, they get their solid texture and are cut into their iconic wedge shape.
The second time, they're baked to crispy, crumbly perfection. These cookies have such a reputation because of the fact that they're perfect for dipping but even with that, they're not everyone's favorite. However, in recent years, the addition of new and innovative flavors have put them through quite a revival.
Everyone remembers sesame biscuits, but they're still the type of cookie that not everyone loves. If anything, they're probably the least-loved of all the Italian cookies simply because they're a bit confusing.
Unlike pignoli cookies, these have a sweet base but have an abundantly nutty, and pretty strong, flavor from their exterior covering of sesame seeds. Since not everyone is a fan of the tiny seeds, they've become somewhat of a bottom-of-the-box cookie that everyone leaves for last.