Once upon a time, a year or so before my parents were blessed with the sweetest bundle of joy they could have ever imagined (me), they lived in a shitty little apartment in Pasadena down the street from a family-owned Italian bakery called Federico’s. My older sis lived there too but she’s not part of the story!!!!!!!!! Yet.
25 years later, this bakery is still a favorite of my family’s (a pink cardboard box filled to the brim with handmade Italian treats is a requirement for my dad’s birthday every year andddd okay also for every time I drive down East Colorado Blvd.). Where does my sister enter the story, you ask? A few years ago, when she developed a serious allergy to wheat, preventing her from being able to enjoy the gourmet goodies that had become part of our family’s tradition.
I stumbled upon Glutenetto Gluten-Free Italian Cookies a few weeks ago when I was at the CDF National Conference & Gluten-Free Expo in Pasadena. It’s a funny story, actually… While I did try some yummy things at the expo, I was mostly disappointed with the baked goods I tasted there. You see, my motto about gluten-free baking is, if it TASTES or FEELS gluten-free, it is not a successful recipe. And most of the things I tried there just tasted and felt wrong.
So when a rep from Cookies Con Amore offered me a cookie from their gluten-free line, Glutenetto, you might understand why I took the sample, thanked them politely and walked away to taste it some place where they wouldn’t see my unimpressed expression. After all, I KNOW good Italian cookies — I grew up eating some of the best around! There was no way these pretty-looking, gluten-free impostors could compare.
Boy, was I wrong.
I took one bite of the cookie in my hand and literally RAN back to the booth with the biggest smile on my face to tell them how much I enjoyed it! I’m actually pretty sure my eyeballs popped out of their sockets because I was so shocked at how good these were. They tasted JUST like the Italian cookies I grew up eating! Fernanda Capraro, co-founder and head baker at Cookies Con Amore, was actually standing at the booth and I just remember standing there with my eyes lit up/popping out, thanking her profusely for baking these amazing cookies that my sister could eat.
Fernanda and her husband Angelo both grew up in a small village in Southern Italy, where their families were known for their cookies. They moved to California in the 70s, opened a few restaurants and then, in 2005, finally decided to devote themselves to the thing they loved most and opened Cookies Con Amore. Thank baby Jesus for that! You can purchase these cookies at Whole Foods and many gourmet grocery stores in the U.S. You can also order directly from the Cookies con Amore online shop where their entire line of classic, gluten-free, sugar-free and seasonal cookies are available.
Want 20% off your order? Enter AMORE4CELLA at check out!
Scroll down for my comments on each cookie & try not to drool on your laptop kaythanksssss
The above two pics are from my Instagram, @cocinadecella. I wish I took a picture of that cookie on the right with my DSLR because it was hands down my favorite. It is just that I snapped a pic with my iPhone and then got too excited to wait to take more with my real camera soooo I ate it and that’s what happened. It is called a raspberry linzer and it is a butter cookie with raspberry jam. So simple yet so good. They remind me a lot of my favorite cookie from Federico’s, which is probably why they hit a sweet spot for me. If I had to choose just one cookie from the Cookies con Amore variety box, I would order boxes on boxes of these without blinking.
You are probably familiar with the cookies above, known to some as “snowballs,” known to others as “Mexican wedding cookies,” and known to Cookies con Amore simply as “wedding cookies” (my family, Americanized-Mexicans as we are, call them snowballs). We actually bake these snowball cookies every year during the holidays and everybody always raves about them. Well, GUESS WHAT! The Glutenetto ones are WAY better than the ones my family makes! Wayyy better! Yeah, I said it! Yeah I said it twice, got a problem with that! The biggest difference is that we use almonds in ours and these ones feature pecans. The texture is dead on (difficult for gluten-free cookies) but I think the hint of lemon zest might be what throws these over the edge. These are a must buy.
These are the reginettes – crunchy butter cookies coated with sesame seeds, with a strong lemony flavor. I liked these (you can never go wrong with a butter cookie!) but my sister is allergic to sesame seeds so I don’t think we’ll be ordering them again.
I think you can tell how much I like the cookie based on the picture I took of it. Don’t these amaretti cookies look delicious? The cool thing is that amaretti cookies are traditionally gluten-free, which means this recipe didn’t require any weird tinkering. In fact, it is probably the same recipe used by Fernanda’s grandma in Italy! They get their structure from almond and macaroon paste, which results in a deliciously chewy texture (reminiscent of the texture of a French macaron shell). I love the strong almond flavor of these but if you are not into almond extract, they might rub you the wrong way. I also love the crisp exterior and how they are coated in sugar crystals. These were my second favorite cookies of the bunch and I strongly recommend them!
This is a polentine, a crispy corn flour cookie rolled with raspberry jam. My sister is allergic to corn so she wasn’t able to eat them (more for me muhahaha). They were good but I think I wish they had more jam?
These are ricciarelli(s?), traditional Tuscan wedding cookies. Also flourless, they are made from ground almonds and whipped egg whites. I preferred the chocolate one to the vanilla one (we thought it tasted kinda like a tootsie roll haha) but they weren’t my favorite.
These were yummmmmmm. They are called nonnines, so I’m thinking they were named after Fernanda’s grandma? Besides the cute-ass name, these adorable little cookies have a soft, light texture and a thin/crispy/lemony/sugary shell. Amazing texture and flavor combo. These are also a must buy.
What kind of Italian cookie assortment would this be without biscotti? There is a double chocolate one and a chocolate chip one. (P.S. people who put chocolate in everything are the best kind of people, am I right or am I right?). To be totally honest, I never really got the appeal of biscotti haha but I used to work at a bakery back in the day and these biscotti were as good as any I’ve ever tried, so that’s saying something, right? Ideal for coffee dunking, I think.
Have you ever tried cookies from Glutenetto? If not, do you think you would ever try them? What about Italian cookies in general — which kind are your favorite?
P.S. Do you have an Instagram? Let’s be friends! @cocinadecella
P.P.S. Cookies con Amore sent me a package of complimentary cookies to review for this blog; all opinions are my own.