Holiday Cookies: Giugiuleni

I love baking no matter what time of year it is, but there's something extra special about holiday baking. The first time I went to New York City, I walked all over Little Italy in search of two particular types of cookies to bring back to my grandmother: giugiuleni, and cuccidati. Of course, asking for these by name didn't always bring me success because these two cookies go by a handful of different names. I didn't know that at the time so it was quite the adventure, but eventually, I came across a bakery that understood what I was looking for and was able to get a box of these cookies to bring home. I can't lie: it was quite the challenge to not eat any of these cookies on the long nine hour train ride home. But I did it and being able to share these special cookies with my grandmother was a memory I will never forget.

To me, these cookies have become a way of connecting to the memory of my grandmother, and to my Italian heritage. They're also super easy to make and quite delicious! They're buttery with just the right amount of anise flavor. Their crunchiness makes them a perfect complement to a nice cup of coffee or hot cocoa.


You will need: 
(makes about 3-4 dozen)

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened. 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 scant teaspoon anise oil (if using extract, you can double this amount) 
  • 1 cup of white sugar 
  • 3 cups of white AP flour 
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • a dash of salt 

for coating:  
  • sesame seeds
  • milk  

Begin by preheating your oven to 425°, and prepping two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

Combine your softened butter with the sugar in the bowl of a mixer - mixing until fully incorporated. 

Add the eggs, vanilla, and anise oil to the bowl and combine the wet ingredients well. 

Once you have your wet ingredients blended well, add in the baking powder, salt and mix. 

Slowly add in your flour until it has all been combined well. 

To make cookies: 

take two small bowls and fill one with milk and the other with sesame seeds for coating. 

flour your hands and then take small bits of dough (between a teaspoon & tablespoon's worth) and roll them into a log shape.  

take the dough and dip briefly into the milk, and then roll in the sesame seads until coated. 

line a cookie sheet with two rows of cookies and then bake for about 10-15 minutes. I found that 13 minutes was the perfect time for me and my oven. 

When done, cool the cookies on a cookie sheet before devouring. 

If you've never tried giugiuleni before, I encourage you to add something new to your holiday cookie lineup this year. Since they're not too sweet, they provide a nice balance at a time where sugar abounds!

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