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Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies

I recently found this old family recipe in my mom’s kitchen. I made a few adjustments to streamline the process, and the cookies turned out wonderfully. —Shawn Barto, Winter Garden, Florida
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 10 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    5 dozen


  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • GLAZE:
  • 2-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk
  • Sprinkles, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and cloves; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Stir in walnuts.
  • Shape level tablespoons of dough into balls; place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until bottoms are light brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For glaze, in a large bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Dip tops of cookies into glaze; if desired, decorate with sprinkles. Let stand until set. Store between pieces of waxed paper in airtight containers.
Nutrition Facts
1 cookie: 99 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 13mg cholesterol, 57mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.
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  • Rosemarie
    Mar 1, 2021

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! My deceased mother used to make these for Christmas. She added a tablespoon of almond flavoring, one quarter teaspoonful more cloves, and half a cup of walnuts to hers. She also used a chocolate glaze, which can be made by adding a teaspoon of cocoa to your glaze along with 0a teaspoon of almond extract. Otherwise she'd just roll them in powdered sugar prior to baking.

  • Bobbie
    Feb 11, 2020

    I thought these were mediocre at best. I won't be making them again, but I only like exceptional cookies. I was hoping for a stronger spicier taste.

  • NH-rescue
    Dec 31, 2019

    We made these for a Christmas Cookie Swap. They are nice and round and hold their shape well. Watch how much milk you add to the glaze; you'll want it pretty thick. Otherwise, it doesn't coat the cookies as prettily as the ones in the picture.

  • Gail
    Dec 19, 2019

    My new favorite! I made them without spices and doubled the vanilla. I also added about 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips. They took 10 min in my oven. Perfect Italian cookies. If you want the spices I'm sure they are just as good.

  • rose1138
    Dec 2, 2019

    Angela - you could substitute butter in an equal amount. The cookies may be a bit flatter as butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening. Butter contains water and shortening is 100% fat. Cookies baked with butter can be more crispy if there is a great deal of sugar in the recipe. I would suggest chilling the dough to help reduce spread if you use all butter. You might also consider using half butter and half shortening.

  • Amy
    Dec 2, 2019

    My grandmother used to make these for weddings, but we called them black pepper cookies (her recipe called for a pinch of black pepper). We added raisins to ours. My very favorite cookies for the Christmas season!

  • Valerie
    Dec 1, 2019

    These are easy to make, and have a great flavor. I cut the recipe in half. My friends loved them ,

  • zachydoodle
    Nov 30, 2019

    These cookies are really delicious. Have been making them for years, but we always called them Chocolate Meatball Cookies because they looked like little meatballs. But we didn't put the little sprinkles on them and we glazed the whole cookie. The sprinkles certainly dress them up!

  • angela
    Nov 30, 2019

    These are wonderful cookies! Brought back many memories of our Italian weddings, my family,and all the joy we shared on those special days a long time ago. Please please try these. Angela