Gigi's Tadals A Trenton Holiday Cookie Tradition
Italian's love their holiday cookies and with so many varieties, flavor and traditions, what is not to love. From Pignoli to Cuccidati, not only are the cookies delicious, they are also so festive to look at, which is no surprise as dramatic presentation is engrained in most Italians and that includes everything from clothes to cookies to home decor.
The cookie we are making today is called Tadal. I have no idea where the name Tadal came from. I've never heard it in Italy, or in other Italian-American pockets here in the North East. But that's certainly not unusual, it was all part of the immigrant journey, things change and adapt and every once and awhile, a new cookie is born. I've tried to derive where the name came from, my first instinct was that some kid with a mom with a heavy accent confused Tarallis for these cookies and New Jersey Italian-a-fied that into a Tadal. If you put some emphasis on this, I could see that happening, but this cookie is nothing like a Taralli. Tarallis are kind of like a breadstick twisted into a magical circle. But now back to Tadals. This cookie is very similar to an Anginetti as well as the even popular Anise Cookie, in fact, it's almost the same recipe but instead of anisette we use vanilla in the cookie and lemon in the icing. It's light, buttery and that lemon dash really brings it home. And if you are not a lemon fan, you can easily make the icing vanilla, there are options in the recipe below.
And Bonus, watch me and Sissy roll and frost our tadals on my IGTV. Seriously, Sis is so good at frosting it's kind of amazing.
In my family, there is only one person to go to for a killer tadal recipe, and that is Gigi Sue. She is the tadal queen! Sue has been my mom's bestie since high school and has been in my life since the day I was born, an honorary aunt that I adore! When I wanted to do Tadals for my blog (and mouth), I knew nothing but Sue's recipe would do!
I've only made a few changes here, mostly the use of food coloring. I love baking with my daughter and especially during the holidays when we make and share treats with our neighbors and friends. So in the pictures below, we used red and green food coloring to get a little more seasonal. But you can leave your frosting white and use a rainbow sprinkle or go all while with white sprinkles, the options are endless.
Give this recipe a shot, you won't be disappointed, and be sure to check out my other holiday cookie offerings so that you can start working on that cookie tower!
This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
What Do I Need
4.5 Cups of Flour
1 Cup Sugar
5 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla
1 Stick of softened butter
1 Lemon or Vanilla
2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Milk
Optional food coloring
Optional Lemon Zest (If you are going to do the lemon frosting, which I LOVE, add the zest of 1/2 a lemon to your frosting to give it an extra lemon boost!)
*Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Using an electric or stand mixer, beat together your sugar, eggs and butter. Next add your oil and extract - (I highly recommend Orlando Vanilla Extract, it is so good and what I use for my baking). Once these ingredients are mixed, add in your flour and baking powder and mix well. Once fully blended, you can begin to roll the dough into 1" balls and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Leave about a 1/2" distance between cookies, they grow a tiny bit.
Cook for 8 - 10 minutes. This is critical, you can not over cook these babies. I tend to cook mine for 9 minutes and that is the lucky number in my oven. So just watch yours, they will expand a bit, some will split a little at the top and that is totally fine. I honestly find the ones with a bit of cracking are the lightest AND it doesn't matter because the icing will conceal the cracks!
Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the frosting.
In a small bowl, mix 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice (or vanilla) and 3 Tablespoons of milk, mix well with a small whisk or fork. If you want to use food coloring add it now. I use 1 - 3 drops depending on the color I am going for. Your icing should be quite thick. If it feels to thin, add a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it up.
Next dip your cookies into the icing and place back on the cookie sheet. You are only dipping the tops, not fully submerging. I dip about 4 - 8 cookies at a time and then sprinkle the nonpareils over the tops of them. The icing dries quickly and you need it wet to hold the nonpareils so be sure to get them on there before the icing dries.
Once done, let the icing harden and then delight your friends, family and neighbors with this ridiculously delicious cookie. Seriously. I just ate these for breakfast.
Take Note: If you are entering a baking contest, you might want to make these in "knots" instead of balls, and when I say knot, it's really like a poo emoji, where you would roll the dough into about a 5" log and swirl into a circle, pinching the ends off. This shape, after cooking, presents really closely to when just rolling a ball, but it will help retain moisture in the cookie while still offering a crisp exterior. BUT I love them as balls, the taste differential isn't that much and they are faster to make and easier, especially if you are cooking with kids!