Ossi di Morti (Bones of the Dead Cookies) #SundaySupper

by Anne Papina on October 28, 2012

Ossi di Morti (Bones of the Dead cookies)

I only discovered this recently, but Ossi di Morti, or bones of the dead cookies, are one of my mom’s favorite treats. How did I not know this? Apparently, my grandfather would often make the trek to North Beach in San Francisco and return with these cookies from Victoria Pastry for his girls. Sorta like the story in the Italian nursery rhyme my mom always sang, Batti le Manine. Although these cookies are traditionally meant to be part of the All Saints Day/All Souls Day celebrations, these were an everyday treat for my family. Crunchy and rich from the meringue style base, dotted with hazelnuts and almonds, it’s easy to see why.

This week for #SundaySupper, we’re offering an array of devilishly good recipes to make your Halloween special–from Candy Corn Martinis to Witches’ Fingers, we have it all below.

Celebrations of Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, date back to ancient times, originating from the Celtic festival “Samhain” (sah-win) — a harvest festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the “season of darkness and cold.” While the festival itself was one of joy, the Celts believed “Samhain” to be the “Lord of Death” who allowed spirits to return to their former homes on earth, only on October 31. Many of today’s Halloween traditions stem from these early rituals.

In Italy, the Roman Catholics instead celebrate All Saints Day (November 1), honoring the Saints, and All Souls Day (November 2), honoring loved ones lost. Ossi di Morti are a staple in those celebrations. The recipe varies depending on where you are, but the sentiment remains the same. This recipe is based on the Piemonte version and is adapted from a recipe I found on About.com.

ossi di morti ingredients

Just a few ingredients are involved–let’s pull those together.

ossi di morti mixing

Using a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients (except the nuts), and mix until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.

ossi di morti nuts

Lightly crush the nuts (I just put them in a ziplock bag and gave them a good whack with a mallet), then stir the nuts into the cookie dough mixture.

ossi di morti dough

Lightly knead the dough and form into a ball. Cut into quarters, working with one at a time.

ossi di morti strips

On a floured surface, use both hands to roll the dough out into a snake shape.

bones of the dead

Cut strips about 2 inches in length and roll out slightly more into bone shapes (OK these look more like fingers).  Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

ossa dei morta

Bake about 20 minutes or until they just start to turn golden on the edges. You really don’t want these cookies to brown. Let ’em cool completely.

Ossi di Morti (Bones of the Dead cookies)

These cookies are great straight or dunked in coffee. Enjoy!

4.7 from 3 reviews
Ossi di Morti (Bones of the Dead Cookies)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These meringue style cookies are extra crunchy, dotted with hazelnuts and almonds, and laced with a hint of cloves.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 15
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of Cloves
  • Pinch of Cinnamon
  • 4 ounces hazelnuts, lightly crushed
  • 4 ounces almonds, lightly crushed
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice.
  3. Stir in the nuts and knead dough until fairly firm and form into a ball. Cut into quarters.
  4. Working with one quarter at a time, roll the dough out with your hands a floured surface into a snake shape.
  5. Cut off 2 inch pieces and shape into bones with your hands.
  6. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, and lay the bones on it.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they just start to turn golden on the edges.
  8. Cool completely before serving. Makes about 3 dozen.


On the menu for our Trick-or-Treat #SundaySupper Halloween Party:

Bewitching Brews

Ghoulish Gruel:

Haunted Snacks:

Spooky Sweets:

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day, this Sunday (October 28th) during #SundaySupper.  We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about all things Halloween.  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your favorite Halloween recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.

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