My son Michael got married last Saturday, and like any good Italian-American mother, I offered to make him and Beth (his bride) a wedding cookie cake for the reception.
Decades ago, you couldn’t go to a wedding reception in an Italian-American family without seeing trays of cookies for the guests, alongside a multi-tiered traditional wedding cake. They also include a scattering of Jordan almonds, or “confetti” as Italians call them.
I was dubious about whether this was truly an Italian custom, and I got my answer after attending a couple of weddings in Italy on my mother’s side of the family – the Northern Italian side. Nobody there seems to follow this tradition, at least not my mom’s relatives.
But one year when I was in Abruzzo, cousins of my late husband were busy baking up all sorts of cookies for a wedding tray – cookies that included the delicious bocconotti – recipe here.
My friend Lilli agreed to make her wonderful almond paste cookie
, and I included those on the tray, and in another separate display.
And of course we had to have pizzelle.
My father’s wife, Rose, graciously offered to make them – and she outdid herself, making about 150 in total. They merited their own separate tray since they are so fragile.
I also wanted to make “S” cookies, or “esse” in Italian. I’ve eaten them in Frascati and in Rome, and loved them so much I’ve brought them home with me, but never quite found a recipe that came close to what I’ve eaten there. These, a recipe from Mary Ann Esposito, are almost identical – a crispy sugar cookie that keeps its crunch.
Since the bride and groom’s initials are M and B, I thought I’d experiment with those initials too. They were a little trickier to shape and not so successful, so I went back to the “S” shape, but made sure to place the “M’s” and “B’s” on top. Another way they’re baked is in a figure “8.” Just make whatever shape you like.
The cookies added a nice extra something to the dessert table, featuring a most unusual cake topper.
It’s a sculpture of the bride and groom, Beth eating a doughnut and Michael eating gelato. Ever the animal lovers, at their feet are their two cats, Walter and Mervin.
On the way out, guests each took home a personalized bottle of limoncello – all made by Michael months before the wedding, with a photo of the two of them on the label.
And here’s the happy couple just after they took their vows.
Auguroni and mazeltov to my favorite newlyweds!
#Live long and Prospero!
“Esse” or “S” Cookies
recipe from “Celebrations Italian Style” by Mary Ann Esposito
printable recipe here
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted and cooled (I used butter)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vanilla
coarse sugar for topping
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
-In another bowl, whisk the legs with the sugar until light and lemon-colored. Whisk in the shortening, lemon juice and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, mixing well to blend the ingredients. Let batter sit, covered, for five minutes.
-Fill a tipless pastry bag two thirds full of the batter to form 3-inch long Ss or 8s on cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart, and shape each one into a 3-inch long S, using the back of the spoon. (I didn’t bother shaping with a spoon. They spread out in the oven quite a bit. Also, at this point, I sprinkled with coarse decorating sugar. If you don’t have any, use plain granulated sugar.
-Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Watch carefully and rotate the sheets to prevent burning. Let the cookies cool slightly on the cookie sheets before removing to cooling racks.
What a beautiful post and tribute to the Bride & Groom! I can hardly remember a family event without the iconic “cookie tray”, which as you noted is more of a Southern Italian tradition. All the best to the family on this happy occasion.
non sapevo di questa tradizione, pensavo che i confetti fossero gli unici dolci da offrire agli ospiti ! Tantissimi auguri ai ragazzi e un abbraccio a te Linda !
Beautiful post Linda and congratulations to all! Every wedding I ever attended the sweet table was always highly anticipated. Your cookie trays turned out perfect, love the topper and the homemade limoncello was an awesome gift I'm sure the guests much appreciated.
I loved reading all about the wedding and the gorgeous cookies. I can't wait to add them to my cookie recipes. The trays are a work of art 🙂 The wedding cake topper is so cute and my gosh — all those bottles of limoncello – yum! I bet the wedding was spectacular! Congratulations to the newlyweds, may they have a long, happy life together. After all those cookies, are you dreaming about baking cookies?? Have a great weekend.
Agree with all the tributes above. Beautiful variety of cookies! What I am hoping is that someone, or Linda, has the recipe for Limoncello. I tried one recipe using "EverClear" alcohol but it isn't quite right. Any help will be appreciated. BAKE ON everyone!
Congratulations to your handsome son and his beautiful bride. What lovely wedding pictures! I wish I had read this before my daughter and son were married so I could have added a Wedding Cookie Cake to their festivities. We'll have the 's' cookies for a special anniversary. I also want to say that I have tried many of your recipes and never been disappointed. Thank you!!
This is so sweet! I love the sculpture and that the guests took home limoncello from the groom. My parents had an Italian Cookie Cake and I created one for the fiftieth – from Mary Ann Esposito's cookbook. I haven't tried her "S" cookies – mine are chewy (which I like) but it would be fun to mix it up this holiday season and try hers. Lovely posting.
What a beautiful dessert buffet! Congratulations to your son and new daughter-in-law!
Congratulations to Michael and Beth! I love their cake topper and Michael's limoncello favor looks fabulous and I'm sure the guests were so happy to receive it!
Cookie trays and candied almonds are definitely a southern Italian tradition. We had the traditional five almonds for each guest at their table setting for our children's weddings. The five almonds signify five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. They also represent "the bitter and the sweet," which is life.
Your cookies look so delicious, as well as your friends almond cookies and Mary's pretty pizzelles! I will be looking at all the recipes!
Best wishes for the happy couple!
Auguri!! Beautiful pictures!!
My nonna used to make S cookies , she was Sicilian… are they a Sicilian cookie???
One more question … do you melt the butter also ?
thanks so much!
Comments are closed.