All Saints Day Cookies – Ossa dei Morti

While North America celebrates October 31st, Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve, In Italy, November 1st is a Roman Catholic holiday that Italians celebrate. It is called All Saints’ or All Souls Day, and this is a day for remembering your deceased family members.

There are many different traditions followed on this special holiday, and each region has their own favorites. Some folks set a place at the table for their departed loved ones, while others will leave the door unlocked to welcome their spirits. Typically, on November 1st, Italians will take flowers to their family member’s graves and say prayers.

Although this day may seem to be a sad one, for many people, the graveside visit is an opportunity to thank their ancestors. It is a celebration of their lives and a chance for adults and children alike to remember those loved ones that have passed. In some regions, folks have even been known to enjoy a family picnic at the graveside. The flower of choice to bring to the cemetery are usually a bouquet of chrysanthemums, which are at their colorful peak at this time of year.

Since no Italian holiday seems complete without food, there are a number of sweets that are prepared to celebrate All Saints Day. These include Pan dei Morte (a sweet flatbread studded with dried fruits), and these cookies called Ossa dei Morti, or bones of the dead.

These cookies are also called Fave dei Morti, or even All Saints Day cookies. Here in Umbria, they also make a sweet called Dolce di Pasta, a pasta dish sweetened and spiced and enjoyed as a dessert. You can find so many variations of these cookies across Italy, with some being quite crisp while others are very soft.

Some cookies are actually shaped to resemble bones, while others are more oval-shaped like mine in this recipe. These cookies are almond-flavored made with ground almonds and almond extract and will keep well in an airtight container for up to a week.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

All Saints Day Cookies - Ossi dei Morti

All Saints Day Cookies - Ossi dei Morti

Yield: Makes About 3 Dozen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

Crisp almond flavored cookies made to celebrate All Saints Day.


  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 1/2 Ounces Ground Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup (4 Ounces) All-purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt

To Serve:

  • Powdered Sugar


    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, extract, and egg until blended.
    3. Stir in the almonds, baking powder, flour, and salt, and stir just until combined.
    4. Dump mixture onto a lightly floured hard surface and gently knead a minute or two with your hands until smooth. (Dough will be sticky)
    5. Divide the dough into three pieces, and roll each into a 1-inch log.
    6. Cut the log into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch pieces, then use your fingers to roll each piece into ropes about 4-inches long.
    7. Place the cookies 2 to 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies just begin to brown and the tops feel set when touched with your finger tips.
    8. Cool completely, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 184Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 77mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 3g

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