November 1st is a national holiday in Italy and is known as “Tutti I Santi” or “Ognissanti”; All Saints Day. This is a day to honor loved ones who have passed away. This day is followed by” Il Giorno dei Morti” or All Souls Day. It begins with a solemn Mass for departed loved ones and then usually a trip to the cemetery to do a little clean-up and then some decorating.
In Sicily they call this day “U juornu re muorti” and children wake up hoping to find a treat from relatives departed but not forgotten. Families do this as a way to link children to family members who have come and gone before them in the hopes that these important people will not be forgotten over time.
There is a traditional cookie made especially for this day called “ossa dei morti” or “bones of the dead”.
It’s a great sweet especially when accompanied by a cup of espresso or a sip of Vin Santo.
OSSA DEI MORTI Recipe
• ¼ Cup unsalted butter – at room temperature
• 1 Cup Sugar
• 1 Egg – room temperature
• 1 tsp grated orange zest
• ¼ cup orange juice
• 3 Tbs honey
• 2 ¼ cups flour
• 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 ½ tsps. Baking soda
• ½ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• Pinch of salt
• ½ cup raisins
• ½ cup chopped walnuts
• Confectioner’s sugar – for sprinkling
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350° F.
GREASE 2 BAKING SHEETS
(One thing I learned early when baking is this:
Set your oven temperature enough in advance so that it has reached
temperature for a least 45 minutes to an hour before you are ready
to put your cake or pie or cookies in. Doing this provided a more even baking environment temperature wise)
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar until well blended
Beat in the egg, orange zest, orange juice and the honey
Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
Mix until all is incorporated and well blended and then stir in the raisins and walnuts
Break off pieces of the dough and shape into pieces that resemble a 2 ½ inch sausage
Place on the baking sheet and flatten the dough so that it slightly resembles
a bone (don’t be concerned with being too artistic!)
Repeat with the remaining dough. The cookies should be about 2 inches apart
as the will spread during baking
Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookies are puffed and set.
Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute or two before transferring to a wire
rack to cool completely
Dust the completely cooled cookies with confectioner’s sugar
Stored in an air-tight container, the cookies become more flavorful every day.