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Cookies with Nuts
Ossi di Morti
Ossi dei Morti (Bones of the Dead, with almonds and egg whites)
Originated from: Southern Italy
Occasion: The Feast Day of the Dead (Nov. 2nd)
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg whites
1 1/2 blanched ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract


Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the almond extract.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Fold in the egg whites in the flower and sugar mixture.

Add the ground almonds to the egg white and flour mixture.

Place the mixture on a floured board.

Using a rolling pin, roll dough to 1/4 thickness.

Cut out cookies that are about 3 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide.

Place the cookies 1 1/2 apart on greased cookie sheets.*

Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 20 minutes. The cookies should not brown, but remain cream-colored (like bones!).

Cool before removing the cookies off the pan.

*For best results use aluminum cookie sheets that are sold in "Dollar Shops" [e.g. "Titan Foil"] and then place silicon-based baking mats [e.g. Demarle's Silpat] on top of them. Cheaper aluminum cookie sheets do not conduct heat as well as the more expensive cookie sheets available in specialty shops which surprisingly is a good thing. In aluminum cookware the bottoms of the cookies don't cook faster than the tops, resulting in more evenly-cooked cookies (No burnt cookie bottoms!).


Ossi di Morti were traditionally made in Italy (well, at least in Sicily they were always made) for the Feast Day of the Dead (or All Souls' Day) which falls on November the 2nd of each year. Apparently in eastern Sicily the cookies are shaped to look like skulls (made with the appropriate molds), but in most other parts of Sicily and mainland Italy they are shaped to look like the "bones" of the dead (hence their name). Dozens and dozens of very different recipes can be found under the name of "ossi di morti." Some regions use wheat flour, others corn; some regions flavor the cookies with orange zest, others use cinnamon. And the list goes on. Because almond-meringue nut cookies are my favorite I decided to go with an almond-meringue type of "ossi di morti." An on-line bakery (www.cornaggiabakery.com) indicates that their pastry chefs make their "ossi di morti" with sugar, wheat flour, almonds and egg whites. The Cornaggia Bakery does not provide its recipe, but it does have a picture of the cookies they sell as "ossi di morti." For those who want to make their own, there are many recipes one can try out. Possibly, the easiest way to make these cookies is to use a Halloween-cookie cutter (the "finger" shape). I didn't have one, so I improvised (Cut out a piece of paper with the required cookie dimensions). The end result was a tasty-enough cookie. Unfortunately or fortunately, my "ossi di morti" did not conjure any thoughts of the dead. In fact, they did quite the opposite. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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