Easy Italian Chocolate Cookies Recipe is really easy to make. Warm spices, chocolate and a touch of orange flavor, they are delicious! With a chewy chocolate cake center and a crisp outside, a family recipe you'll treasure!
Why you'll love Homemade Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies:
- Truly delicious: These Italian Toto cookies are a delicious and unique twist on traditional chocolate cookies.
- Chocolate + orange: The addition of orange zest adds a lovely citrus flavor that pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate taste.
- Easy cookie recipe: These cookies are easy to make and require only basic baking ingredients, making them perfect for any occasion or craving.
- Add in some nuts: If you like a crunch of nuts, add in some chopped walnuts. It will add a delightful crunch and nuttiness to the cookies, making each bite even more satisfying.
- Beautiful cookies: Perfect to add on to your Christmas cookie try. The powdered sugar coating gives these cookies a beautiful and festive appearance, making them perfect for holiday gatherings or gift-giving.
- Why you'll love Homemade Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies:
- Sicilian Chocolate Spice Cookies
- What ingredients are in Chocolate Spice Cookies?
- How to make spiced chocolate cookies?
- Expert tips for chocolate Italian cookies:
- Variations for Sicilian tetù cookies:
- How to store chocolate spice balls:
- Some other Italian cookie recipes to enjoy:
- Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies Recipe
If you like simple Italian cookie recipes, you have to try these Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies. They are considered an easy drop cookie recipe and they have a really soft cake-like texture. Filled with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Chocolate and orange flavor makes these cookies smell heavenly while they're baking away.
Sicilian Chocolate Spice Cookies
You’ll love the flavor combination of chocolate, orange, and warm spices in these cookies. They’re easy to make and would be a welcome addition to this year’s cookie swap. Mom (nonna to my kids) made this recipe when we were growing up. And she had tweaked an original recipe from a Sicilian cookbook her Sicilian friends in Cleveland gave to her when I was a little girl.
The book was The Art of Sicilian Cooking" by Anna Muffoletto. Anna had shared a recipe that I remember with the maraschino cherry on top of the icing! Mom ended up changing the recipe over the years and started using powdered sugar instead of a glaze.
Mom (aka Nonna) does sometimes still make the glazed with the cherry version. I'll have to share that here sometime! Anna also used lard, which in Sicily would be strutto, but this recipe has butter. There are so many versions of this cookie.
Italian chocolate spice cookies are one of my family's favorite cookies to make for our Christmas baking marathon! They are easy to make and have an incredible flavor combination. They bake up with a chewy chocolate center and crisp outside.
Christmas in a big Sicilian family meant there would always be trays of different cookies. And since all our friends were Italian, we would go house to house during the holidays and enjoy even more Italian cookies and desserts. My brother and I run up to grab our favorites. He would typically grab the cannoli first! I would get any thing chocolate!
You maybe grew up knowing these cookies as tetù cookies, dudu cookies, toto cookies, meatball cookies, Sicilian chocolate spice cookies, or chocolate spice balls. Just as many names there are you will find variations. Some have an easy confectioner's sugar glaze. Some have the glaze and sprinkles. There are cookies even with a boozy glaze!
There are versions with chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles. And then there are the ones like ours that are rolled in confectioner's sugar. I have had versions with chopped nuts and chopped maraschino cherries. The version I share today does not have any chopped nuts, but feel free to add some in!
All the different versions are essentially the same Sicilian cookie. Like so many Sicilian recipes, it is an unusual combination. When you take a bite, you will notice the spices, the touch of cloves, a hint of orange. It may bring back Italian family memories like trying them at a Christmas get together or even at a wedding. Totally unique, but just delicious! Let's get onto this recipe!
Let's get onto this easy Italian cookie recipe!
What ingredients are in Chocolate Spice Cookies?
A blend of two types of chocolate and if you add in some chopped walnuts, they'll have a nice irresistible crunch! Here is all you need to make these delicious cookies (full printable recipe is below):
- Flour: all-purpose flour is what we use and it provides structure and texture to the cookies.
- Cocoa powder: adds a rich chocolate flavor and dark color to the cookies.
- Baking powder: helps the cookies rise and become light and fluffy.
- Sea Salt: balances out the sweetness of the other ingredients.
- Spices (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice): add warm, aromatic flavors to the cookies.
- Vanilla extract: adds a warm touch of vanilla flavor.
- Orange zest: a touch of zest brightens the rich chocolate flavor a little. You could also use lemon zest.
- Eggs: bind the ingredients together and add moisture to the dough.
- Granulated sugar: adds sweetness to the cookies.
- Milk: adds moisture and richness to the dough. You could use unsweetened almond milk to keep these dairy-free.
- Unsalted Butter: provides flavor, texture, and helps the cookies spread while baking. Use margarine to keep these dairy-free.
- Chocolate chips (or melted chocolate): melted it gives the cookies for a rich, decadent touch.
- Walnuts: chopped walnuts or almonds add a nice crunch to these cookies. Optional if you have on hand and enjoy the flavor, add them in!
- Powdered sugar (icing sugar): used for rolling the dough balls in before baking, creating a sweet and slightly crispy outer layer.
How to make spiced chocolate cookies?
Full printable recipe is below. But here is the summary of steps.
Gather up all the ingredients. This will make sure you don't forget any thing!
Step 1: Melt the chocolate. I did a double boiler method. I melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler (or a small sauce pan) set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate as it's melting. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: Stir the chocolate as it's melting. Set aside to cool.
Step 3: In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, begin to beat eggs.
Step 4: Add in sugar until and beat with the eggs until light and fluffy. You could also mix in bowl with a wooden spoon.
Step 5: Add in the milk.
Step 6: Add in the butter until combined.
Step 7: Mix in the melted chocolate.
Step 8: Add in the vanilla extract.
Step 9: Beat all these wet ingredients together.
Step 10: Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and spices. I just whisk them all together in a bowl. You could also sift them all together. I find if I whisk them really well they get combined nicely.
Step 11: Whisk to combine the cocoa into the dry ingredients. Be sure to get it all from the bottom of the bowl and combine together.
Step 12: With mixer on low speed, start adding in dry ingredients in small amounts at a time, stopping the mixture to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and combine. You could do this step by hand stirring with a wooden spoon or a spatula.
Step 13: When all of the dry ingredients are combined with the wet, the dough needs to chill. The dough is a soft and sticky dough. You could chill in the mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Or portion it out and chill. On a clean countertop, roll each portion of dough into a log approximately 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, using confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and move to a shelf in the refrigerator. Chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prep your baking sheets with baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray.
Step 14: Cut each log into 1-inch pieces. If you didn't roll into separate portions, use your clean hands or a medium sized ice-cream scooper (or a spoon) and start to portion pieces of the dough. Using your hands (spray with baking spray to make it easier), roll the pieces into a ball shape and toss in small bowl of confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Keep the other logs chilled while you're working with the first one.
Step 15: Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough portions rolling and placing on baking sheet. I spray my baking sheet with baking spray.
Step 16: Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely.
I set my timer for 8 minutes. Depends on how big you roll out the cookies. If you roll them out a little bit bigger, they need a full 10 minutes. You don't want to dry them out. You could bake a few and test at 8 minutes and see if they're ready, and if not, add on more time for the rest of cookies.
Expert tips for chocolate Italian cookies:
- Let dough chill: you could keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Makes it convenient when you're making different types of holiday cookies.
- Dough logs: Make the doughs into logs before chilling. This is what I do with my chocolate crinkle cookies. It really makes it easier to portion them out. The dough even when chilled is it a bit sticky. When the logs are chilled, it's easy to cut of portion.
- Roll in powdered sugar: Before chilling, the dough logs get rolled in a little powdered sugar and wrapped in plastic wrap. When you slice out portions, roll them in your hands like you're rolling meatballs.
- Dust hands: Depending on how much powdered sugar you roll the log into, you could even sprinkle a little powdered sugar on your hands before rolling out the cookie portions.
- Drop cookies: You could choose to chill the whole container of the cookie dough covered with plastic wrap. Instead of rolling into logs, you could also use a spoon or ice cream scooper to pull out portions of the dough to make them drop cookie style.
- Space out cookies: When you place out the cookie balls on the parchment lined sheet, they do need 1½-2 inches as they expand while baking. You don't want them touching and sticking together.
- Keep an eye on the time: They should be ready in 8 minutes. Every oven is different. It could take 10 minutes. Bake a few before baking the whole thing, and see how many minutes it takes. Then you could set your timer to the correct time. I find in my oven if I bake to 10 minute, these cookies get dry.
- Do not overbake: Depends on how big you roll out your cookie dough, but I check mine at 8 minutes. I can tell just by the aroma coming out of the oven that they are ready. Every oven is different, and you may need an extra 2 minutes and bake it a full 10 minutes. The more you bake these, you'll get the hang of it with the shape you roll it out and if you need to time 8 or 10 minutes.
Variations for Sicilian tetù cookies:
Since this is variation on a Sicilian spice cookie, it will vary from from different aread of Sicily, and even from family to family!
- Spice: You may not be crazy about cloves, just simply omit if you don't like it. I don't mind a touch of it and it makes these cookies so distinct.
- Glaze: To make them festive for the holidays, make a simple iced sugar glaze and spinkle on some colored nonpareils. You could use the glaze I have here on these Italian Christmas Cookies. Some Sicilian recipes have a white or a chocolate glaze. If you do glaze them, skip the rolling in the confectioner's sugar part of the recipe.
- Nuts: Chopped walnuts or almonds could be added to the dough.
- Maraschino cherries: Some American-Italian vintage recipes have chopped maraschino cherries in the dough. If you like them, go ahead and add some in! I didn't come across any Sicilian recipes with cherries, but you never know!
- Citrus: Lemon zest could be used or orange zest!
- Shape: Depending on the recipe, it could be round like a meatball, or even elongated.
How to store chocolate spice balls:
- To store: Store at room temperature in an airtight container with non stick or wax paper between the layers for 5 days.
- To freeze: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2-3 months. When thawing, thaw cookies on the counter in the container. If you want to freeze smaller portions, store in smaller containers or in zipped lock freezer bag.
Yes, they could be frozen. Best way to do it is place a tray in freezer with the raw cookie balls rolls out. Once they've totally frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer safe container and keep the cookie balls separated with wax paper and in a single layer.
Label and date the container. Freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before baking and roll in powdered sugar. When you need them. simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator, roll in powdered sugar and bake.
These cookies are a variation of Sicilian Chocolate Spice Cookies. It's a chocolate cookie flavored with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and orange zest. In Sicily, these spicy and chocolatey cookies are enjoyed on All Saint's Day (November 1st). You'll find them in the States for Christmas.
There are so many names for these Sicilian cookies! Your family maybe called these cookies tetù cookies or dudu cookies. Then there are families that know them as the meatball cookies (or chocolate meatball cookies!), Sicilian chocolate spice cookies, or frosted chocolate balls. Meatball cookie, because when they portion out the dough they do sort of look like a meatball!
I like to use this Ghirardelli chocolate , as it works very well for baking. Melts really easily and smoothly. The flavor is really great!
There are some recipes that do add some liqueur. I do not. If you search around, I'm sure you could find an old recipe that does add some in and decide how much to use and what to use.
Yes, it's not a problem. Use a hand mixer, if you have one. I have a vintage one that I love! If not, just use a wooden spoon and your arm power! The butter is melted, so it's easy to incorporate into the dough.
Yes, you will see toto cookies referred to as spice cookies, because of the addition of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Yes, you can! Just skip the part where you roll them in the confectioner's sugar. Once the cookies have cooled down, ice them with a confectioner's sugar glaze.
Some other Italian cookie recipes to enjoy:
- Italian Rainbow Cookies
- Cuccidati-Sicilian Fig Cookies
- Italian Lemon Knot Cookies
- Sicilian S Cookies
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies Recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup milk use unsweetened almond milk for dairy-free
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted and cooled (use margarine if you're dairy-free)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 ounces dark chocolate melted and cooled (or bittersweet chocolate)
- ½ cup almonds or walnuts finely chopped (optional)
- zest of 1 orange optional, could also use a lemon
- confectioner's sugar for rolling cookies
- Melt the chocolate: I did a double boiler method. I melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler (or a small sauce pan) set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the chocolate as it's melting. Set aside to cool.
- Combine dry ingredients: Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and spices. I just whisk them all together in a bowl. You could also sift them all together. I find if I whisk them really well they get combined nicely. Set aside.
- Mix eggs and sugar: In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. You could also use a hand mixer or if you don't have any sort of a mixer, use a wooden spoon and some arm power.
- Add in wet ingredients: Add the milk and melted chocolate. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined
- Add in dry ingredients: With mixer on low speed, start adding in dry ingredients in small amounts at a time, stopping the mixture to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and combine. You could do this step by hand stirring with a wooden spoon or a spatula.
- Chill dough: The dough is a soft and sticky dough and needs to chill. First options is, you could chill in the mixing bowl covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 30 minutes-2 hours. The more it chills, the easier it will be to work with. If you find the dough to sticky at 30 minutes, keep it chilling longer.
- Chill dough in portions: Or portion it out and chill in dough logs. On a clean countertop, roll each portion of dough into a log approximately 16 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, using confectioners’ sugar to prevent sticking. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and move to a shelf in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prep your baking sheets with baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray.
- Roll out cookie balls: Cut each log into 1-inch pieces. If you didn't roll into separate portions, use your clean hands or a medium sized ice-cream scooper (or a spoon) and start to portion pieces of the dough. Using your hands (spray with baking spray to make it easier), roll the pieces into a ball shape and toss in small bowl of confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. If you portioned out dough into logs, keep the other logs chilled while you're working with the first one.
- Place on baking sheets: Place the cookies 2 inches apart. Continue with the rest of the dough portions rolling and placing on baking sheet.
- Bake: Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
- Make dough ahead: To make it easier when you're baking different cookies for Christmas, Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies dough could be prepped ahead of time and stored even overnight or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking.
- Baking time: Be sure to not overbake the cookies. Every oven is different. Depends on how big you roll out the portions. Mine were ready at 8 minutes. I set a timer. Some that I rolled slightly larger needed 10 minutes.
- Storage: Store in airtight container in between wax paper layers for up to 5 days. Freeze the cooled down cookies in a an airtight container for 2-3 months. Or even once they're frozen transfer to large zipped lock bags. Date and label the container or bags.