I Love Desserts

Ossi da Morto
(Bones of the Dead)
Italian Almond Cookies


These crunchy, almond-scented cookies are traditionally baked and eaten in Italy on November 2, the day after All Saints Day, in honor of family members who've passed away. Sound a little odd? Their flavor will conjure up great memories, we promise! Each region of Italy has its own special flavor combination; the following recipe brings out the best in all of them, in our opinion.

Yield: 3-1/2 dozen

Baking temperature: 300 degrees
Baking time: 15 to 25 minutes, plus resting time

2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups (8-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)*
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract or a few drops almond oil, to taste**
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons (3/4 to 1 ounce) milk

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the sugar, baking powder, flour, almond flour, and salt. Add the egg, extract, and enough of the milk to make a smooth, soft (but not sticky) dough. The dough will seem dry at first; keep beating until it comes together.

Transfer the dough to a heavily floured work surface, and divide it into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake about 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut each snake into 4-inch pieces. Working with one piece at a time, pinch the center portion of the piece, giving it a slender "waist" about 1/2-inch thick. Plump the ends into knob-like shapes, so the whole thing resembles a bone. Don't worry about everything being straight, smooth, and even; these are supposed to be fairly gnarly-looking.

Transfer the pieces to the prepared baking sheets. Place the sheets in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.

Next day, remove the cookies from the refrigerator. Allow them to rest at room temperature for an hour.

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes to make a cookie that's lightly crunchy on the outside, and chewy within. Bake for 20 minutes if you want a cookie that has less chew in the center. Bake for 25 minutes if you want a cookie that's downright hard, like biscotti. Remove the cookies from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

*Substitute 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour if you don't have almond flour.

**Almond is only one of the flavors associated with Ossi da Morto. Other versions call for lemon, anise, cinnamon, or cloves. Feel free to substitute your favorite extract, oil or spice.

Nutrition information per serving (1 cookie, 17g): 58 cal, 1g fat, 1g protein, 5g complex carbohydrates, 7g sugar, 10mg cholesterol, 52mg sodium, 21mg potassium, 5RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 18mg calcium, 22mg phosphorus.


Buy the Book!


The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion
The Essential Cookie Cookbook

Countryman Press
ISBN: 0-88150-659-1
Recipe reprinted by permission.


The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion



This page created December 2004