Italian Christmas Cookies

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Ingredients for Cookies:

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    2 teaspoons baking powder

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

    1/2 cup butter, softened

    1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (from 15-oz container)

    2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

    2 eggs

    1 teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients for Frosting:

    2 1/4 cups powdered sugar

    3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice

    gel food colors, as desired

    candy sprinkles, as desired

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In small bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, softened butter, ricotta cheese and lemon peel with electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy; scrape side of bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until smooth. Stir in vanilla. On low speed, beat flour mixture into sugar mixture until well blended. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Using floured fingers, shape dough into 54 (1-inch) balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until set but not brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  5. In small bowl, beat powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice with spoon until smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too stiff to spread, add additional lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time.
  6. Tint with food color. Using knife, spread 1/2 teaspoon frosting on each cooled cookie; immediately top with sprinkles. Let stand about 30 minutes or until frosting is set.
  7. Store covered in airtight container at room temperature.

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