A long, long time ago in the city of Parma, a shoemaker, seeing Sant’Ilario traveling barefoot through the snow, took pity on him and gave the saint a pair of shoes. The next day in the very same place where he had placed those shoes, sat a pair made of gold.
Little shoe cookies of St. Ilario
And so continues the legend of Parma’s patron saint on his designated day, January 13th of each year. The classic shape of S. Ilario’s shoes are more like laced boots, or what’s called polacchini. The ones for the festa are usually simpler shapes glazed in icing with candy sprinkles or chocolate-dipped. This is a very firm, crisp sugar cookie that holds up well to dunking in a glass of milk.
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 oz. butter, softened to room temperature
2 whole large eggs
2 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for another use)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
grated zest of one lemon or orange
sugar icing or melted chocolate for decorating
candy sprinkles (opt.)
Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until it begins to hold together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes until well combined. Divide into two portions, wrap in plastic and allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to roll the cookies, first preheat oven to 375°F. Roll dough to almost 1/4 inch thick, cut into shoe shapes (I fashioned my own out of cardboard), place on parchment-lined pans and bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10-12 minutes depending on your oven. Cool completely before decorating with sugar icing or dipping into melted chocolate. Yields approximately 6 pairs of shoes.