Grandma Viola’s Viscootz Cookies

We just finished up Christmas cookie season, when my family always fills a large tin (or three) with sweets. Before the holidays, we made chocolate chip cookies, then chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. Both recipes were pulled from the back of the bagged chips.

Our last batch, however, was more interesting.

I didn’t get this recipe from the back of a box. I didn’t pull it from a blog.

No, no, we’re going fancy this time.

This is an old recipe from my Italian great grandmother, Viola Vacante.

These cookies are called “viscootz,” a word which has zero results on Google at the time of writing. They’re small, yellow, cakey cookies with a swirl of icing on top.

The closest relative I can find to this recipe are Italian “anise” or “anisette” cookies, but even those call for distinctly different ingredients.

These anise cookies bear a strong resemblance to my viscootz.

This unique family recipe is below.


Grandma Viola’s Viscootz Cookies

Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Yield: approx. 70 cookies

2016-01-09 21.11.35
Three gorgeous viscootz.


1 pound ricotta cheese

2 sticks butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon vanilla


6 tablespoons butter

434 cups sifted powdered sugar

14 cup milk

112 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In mixing bowl, beat together sugar and butter. Then beat in eggs.

2016-01-08 18.46.40
These anise cookies bear a strong resemblance to my viscootz.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Alternate adding dry mixture and ricotta to the butter/sugar/egg mixture until it is all blended.

Add vanilla and mix again.

Drop teaspoon-sized portions of mixture onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove from cookie tray to cool. When cool, add frosting.

2016-01-08 20.32.13
Our enormous spread, iced and beautiful.

(Optional toppings: coconut, walnuts)2016-01-08 19.28.02


In a mixer bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with milk. Add additional milk, if necessary, to make frosting of spreading consistency.

A little food coloring can add some variety and is especially fun if you’re baking with kids.


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