Nannu's Sicilian Rococo Cookies

By Brian Coppola
December 10, 2016
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Author Notes: Warning up front: this is not a diabetic-friendly cookie, and I do not eat them any more. On the other hand, there are only a few recipes I have that are truly "a family recipe," and this is one of them. My Sicilian grandfather (nannu), Umberto, used to make these cookies. We simply called them jawbreakers, so I have no idea what they are actually called, but they are close to the Rococo cookie of Naples, so I am hereby officially designating them as the Sicilian Rococo cookie. These are great for dipping in coffee. I have upped the spices from nannu's recipe, and my family still gets dozens of these as a part of their Christmas packages from me each year. At some point when I am making them, about half-way through, I spice up the dough a bit more with 2T of cayenne. I am pretty sure they never did that in Sicily. Brian Coppola

Makes: 210

  • 2.5 pounds almonds, processed into small pieces
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks of softened butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons dried lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons dried orange peel
  1. Line a large jelly roll pan (or comparable) with parchment paper. Preheat the over to 350F.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Kneed in the butter, and then the water. Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes.
  4. Roll small handfuls of the dough into thin ropes in a scant dusting of flour, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Take a 4-inch segment and fold it back on itself into a stylized fish shape and place into the parchment.
  5. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.
  6. If you want to make some with a little kick, add cayenne to the dough.

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