Ossa dei Morti recipe, Halloween cookies from Sicily

Ossa dei Morti (Bones of the Dead, in English) are Halloween cookies with a very hard consistency, this is why they remember real bones. They are given to children on All Souls’ Day, along with other goodies and traditional Sicilian treats, as a gift from their loved ones. Originally it seems that these cookies had the purpose of educating the children on traumatic event of death, and they were considered “magical” cookies, a sort of bridge between the earthly world and the hereafter.

Why am I writing about them right now? A reader asked me for the recipe for the Ossa dei Morti Halloween cookies that yes, you usually bake for Souls’ Day, but you can bake whenever you want! She would like to bake them and remember her childhood and I want to make it possible! Here is the Ossa dei Morti Halloween cookies recipe! 🙂

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  • 500 gr flour
  • 500 gr granulated sugar
  • 2 cloves
  • cinnamon
  1. Sift the flour and mix it with a pinch of cinnamon and powdered cloves.
  2. Melt the sugar with a little bit of water over low heat.
  3. Allow to cool and then mix with flour incorporating the water needed to have a smoothe and consistent mixture.
  4. Knead the mixture for a few minutes; then divide it into molds or decorated each piece by cutting the surface with a boxcutter. In both cases, allow to dry them for 2 days.
  5. When they will be hardened, extract them from the molds and moisten the bottom with a little bit of water.
  6. Put them in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake your Halloween treats at 160 degrees for about 20 minutes. As soon as the base of Ossa dei Morti is caramelized, leaving the whitish decoration on their surface, it means they are ready! Let them cool before serving.

There are several variations of the Ossa dei Morti Halloween cookies. Many people add chopped almonds or nuts and Marsala wine, which is a traditional and tasty Sicilian wine. Let me know if you try this recipe! 🙂

2 replies
  1. Antoinette Gugliotti says:

    I’d never made these before, but always got some from a bakery in Brooklyn when we visited our relatives. This recipe was so easy and they tasted exactly as I remembered. I’ll make them again and make them bigger and space them more so as not to touch when the sugar puddles. Never knew how easy they are to make. The problem is waiting a couple of days to dry out before baking. But the wait is definitely worth it. Thank you!


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