Italian striped lemon Christmas cookies


12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1st batch: no food coloring* 
2nd batch: ½ teaspoon red food coloring*
3rd batch: ½ teaspoon green food coloring* 
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract 
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water for egg wash
¼ cup sanding sugar or decorating sugar (optional)

Makes about 4–6 dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them. 



* Note: You’ll need to make this recipe three times; once as written without food coloring, once with green food coloring and once with red food coloring.

* Pro tip: To create vibrant red (not pink) and dark green (not mint green) color in your cookies, use soft gel paste coloring instead of liquid food coloring. See or or visit a local cake-decorating store such as Lynn's Cake and Candy Supplies in Fridley.

Cream together the softened butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until fluffy. (This would be the time where you would add the food coloring for the 2nd and 3rd batches.)

Add the egg, lemon zest, vanilla extract and lemon extract and beat until blended.

Whisk together salt and flour in a small bowl, then add it to the butter-sugar mixture gradually, mixing on low speed. 

Add water, a few drops at a time, if the dough is dry, but only until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and top with another piece of wrap. Press the dough into a thick flat disc and wrap tightly.

Repeat the above steps twice more so you have three batches of dough, each in a different color. 

Refrigerate dough discs for 2 to 3 hours (or overnight). (If you’re chilling overnight, let the dough warm up for about 60 minutes before the next step.)

Roll out each of the three doughs separately between sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. 

Chill each dough, still layered in waxed paper, until firm, about 30 minutes. 

Lay the white dough on a cutting board and peel off the top sheet of wax paper. Brush it lightly with egg wash. Remove one sheet of waxed paper from the green dough. Invert the green dough on top of the white dough, then peel off the waxed paper and brush it with egg wash. Repeat with the red dough. 

Wrap the combined doughs in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, about an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350. Place two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Unwrap the dough and cut it into ¼-inch-thick, 4-inch-long slices, trimming off any uneven edges. Place the slices on parchment-lined baking sheets about an inch apart.

Sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar, if desired.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to brown. 

See local chef Terry John Zila demonstrate this recipe on KARE 11 TV at