Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ossi di Morti

Ossi di Morti, Ossa dei Morti, Ossa di Morto ~ Italian for "bones of the dead". Browsing through the cookbook Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian today, I happened upon this recipe and a web search supplied as many difference recipes as ways to spell it! So many, in fact, it was hard to chose one.

Traditionally, these cookies are made every year in Italy to celebrate All Souls' Day on November 2, in remembrance of the deceased. This is not a morbid or scary day but a celebration of life.

These are very crisp cookies, not quite as hard as biscotti, but definitely designed to be dipped into coffee or wine before being eaten. They get their name from their color and brittle texture.

After looking at six or more recipes, I finally decided on this one because I loved the photography. They could be made spooky for Halloween...

...or take on a much more refined appeal served with your afternoon tea :)

Ossi di Morti Cookies (the Saveur spelling)
Adapted From a Recipe Found Here
Printable Recipe

Be advised, they are not a light and tender cookie but hard and crisp. Probably not well suited to the taste of children.


3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
1 1/2 cups superfine or Baker's sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/8 cup water

Powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with a silicon liner or parchment paper.

Cream the butter, vanilla, lemon zest, cinnamon, and sugar. Add the egg white and beat. Stir in the flour and ground almonds. With the mixer running, add the water slowly until a dough forms. Add a little more, if necessary. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper, and chill for 30 minutes.

Very lightly flour a work surface. Cut the dough into 4 parts. Working with one section at a time, roll it into a rope that is approx 1 inch thick. Cut into 2 inch sections and roll each piece into smaller ropes that are about 1/2-inch thick. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Cool and dust with powdered sugar.


  1. Your cookies look delicious! Italians have such expressive names for cookies :)

    Great pictures, they really look lovely, not scary at all!

  2. Susan, such a great job. You are so creative and talented.

  3. Perfect for Halloween! Italian cookies are so substantial. I guess they were meant to last a long time....not long in my house though lol.

  4. These look lovely -- and rather like a variation on Lady Fingers!

  5. Susan, such a beautiful presentation. I am in awe of your photography, eye candy for me, perfect. Oh, and the cookies sound delicious...have copied and printed.

  6. We had these in Siena, and loved them. I feel a special bond with them because my birthday is November 2, and I love the idea of a cookie just for my birthday! Thanks for this recipe and the gorgeous photos.

  7. They look delicious and I may have to try them tomorrow!

  8. You have a lovely blog. Love the cookies and the photography! Perfect for All Souls Day.

  9. We did the same cookie yesterday- different recipe but the same cookie. I am looking forward to having mine with tea later today. A nice little treat.

  10. These sound perfect with a cup of tea, Susan. Its always fun to try a new cookie recipe.

  11. So nice! Love the crow:) Soo cute nana.

  12. Susan, what an informative post ... The cookies are quite interesting and definitely have a bone-like look. ... I can see why you liked the photography of the cookies on the "bread and honey" blog ... a unique presentation.

  13. What a perfect named cookie for the Halloween weekend. They do look delicious :)


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