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.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Renee October 28, 2012 at 4:51 am

I love hazelnuts and glad you posted this recipe so I now have a cookie recipe with them. And it is great for Halloween too.
Renee recently posted..Jack O Lantern Cookies for #Halloween Trick-Or-Treat #SundaySupperMy Profile


Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) October 28, 2012 at 6:37 am

I had similar cookies, but with pine nuts, at an Italian bakery in New Orleans this summer. Loved the light crunch!
Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) recently posted..#SundaySupper Trick-or-Treat Halloween Party…Featuring Spooky Good Popcorn Snack MixMy Profile


Megan @ I Run For Wine October 28, 2012 at 8:18 am

Awesome spooky recipe. Thank you for sharing!
Megan @ I Run For Wine recently posted..Steak Bites with Bloody Mary Dipping Sauce #SundaySupper Halloween PartyMy Profile


Jen @JuanitasCocina October 28, 2012 at 8:28 am

Love these! And super spooky first pic! LOL. Love it!
Jen @JuanitasCocina recently posted..Halloween Cookie Dough Pops ~ #TrickOrTreat #SundaySupper!My Profile


Family Foodie October 28, 2012 at 8:45 am

Love this post and these cookies…. so much fun!


Bea October 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

LOVE them!!! I will be making them for Wednesday – Thank you for sharing 🙂
Bea recently posted..Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Cake for #SundaySupper {#Dairyfree}My Profile


Angie @ Big Bear's Wife October 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

ooo I’ve never tried these cookies before! I’ll be making them sooN!
Angie @ Big Bear’s Wife recently posted..Pumpkin Halloween Munch #SundaySupperMy Profile


Heather @girlichef October 28, 2012 at 9:20 am

These are absolutely fantastic, Anne! I love meringue-style anything…and with the nuts? Scrumptious. I love that first pic where it looks like the skull is smokin’ a bone 😉 Yum!
Heather @girlichef recently posted..Shrunken Heads in Spiced Cider {#SundaySupper}My Profile


Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen October 28, 2012 at 11:04 am

Sooooo creepy!! I love it 🙂
Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen recently posted..Goblin Eggs for Trick or Treat #SundaySupper #Halloween PartyMy Profile


sunithi October 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

Who would think your bones would be filled with so much good stuff ? 🙂 ! Makes me wanna break one of those bones and eat them ! Very creative . Love all the nuts in them !
sunithi recently posted..White Chocolate Strawberry Ghosts #SundaySupperMy Profile


veronica gantley October 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I love the story behind the bones. In Ireland they eat colcannon. I love the history of food! I will bet they tasted very good.
veronica gantley recently posted..Eggs in Purgatory #SundaySupperMy Profile


Katie October 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I’ve never had a cookie like this before – they sound unique and tasty! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Katie recently posted..Meat Head: A Halloween DIY Tutorial for #SundaySupperMy Profile


Tara Noland October 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Oh my, I bet those are so good!!! Great pics too!


Martin D. Redmond October 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm

The bones look scary good…and with those almonds! I know I’d love me!


Karen Hartzell October 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm

The bones look awesome and super tasty! Where’s my big glass of milk? 🙂
Karen Hartzell recently posted..Baked Mummy Cheese Dogs For a Halloween #SundaySupperMy Profile


Sheila October 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm

This sounds great!!! I love hazelnuts and almonds! Thanks for sharing.


Paula @ Vintage Kitchen October 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

It´s the perfect way to use leftover egg whites. These are wonderful, especially with hazelnuts!


Laura Hunter October 29, 2012 at 3:16 am

Oh wow these sound wonderful. I would make them just as cookies any time of year. Thanks for sharing.
Laura Hunter recently posted..Mini Jack-o’-Lantern Sloppy Joe Pies #SundaySupperMy Profile


Jennie @themessybakerblog October 29, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Oh my, these look amazing! I love the skull eating the cookies. So cute. Happy Halloween!
Jennie @themessybakerblog recently posted..Sweet Cream Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins~ #MuffinMondayMy Profile


Cindys Recipes October 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Very different, Anne! I love it!


baker street October 29, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Eee! So creepy! Just perfect for halloween! 🙂
baker street recently posted..#MuffinMonday: Pumpkin Doughnut MuffinsMy Profile


Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom October 29, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Oh wow! These look fabulous! and perfect for Halloween!
Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom recently posted..BOO Candy Corn and Chocolate Chip Cookies for Halloween #SundaySupperMy Profile


Susan October 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm

These look great and I love that they aren’t too browned, so they do look like “bones of the dead!”
Susan recently posted..Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Redux + Pie Party Recap & Dub Pies #Giveaway!My Profile


Kathia Rodriguez October 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Amazing! They look like real bones
Kathia Rodriguez recently posted..HALLOWEEN CEREAL BARS #SundaySupperMy Profile


Sarah November 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

hazelnuts and almonds make anything taste wonderful. I love your set up for this photo and how you made the first photo black and whitish like an old photo! And thanks for the step by step instructions!
Sarah recently posted..sweet & sour chicken when you can’t get deliveryMy Profile


Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) November 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm

My husband is big on dipping cookie like this in coffee…and with all those nuts in it, I know he’ll really like this. Thank you for sharing it!
Brandie (@ Home Cooking Memories) recently posted..A Foodie Surprise from Wisconsin #foodiepenpalsMy Profile


Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts November 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm

The cookies look perfect for Halloween – thanks for sharing the story behind them!


Kim Bee November 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

These are incredible. Very fitting for the holiday.
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Roger December 9, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I appreciate your style and ease to deal with this issue? A full article on which I will undoubtedly support for my next article. Regards, Roger .
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