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Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies (Tetú or Toto)

Tetú or toto, is the Sicilian name for these delicious Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies. They are soft chocolatey cookies flavored with warm spices including cinnamon and clove and topped with a simple glaze. Every bite will reward you with chocolate chips, nuts, and fruit. These cookies are a holiday season favorite in Italian homes!

Chocolate cookies with white frosting on a plate surrounded by Christmas ornaments.

These delicious cookies are traditionally made for All Saints Day in Sicily, but they have become a staple on the Italian Christmas cookie tray in most other parts of the world, especially North America.

Christmas time is not the only time you will see these Italian chocolate cookies. They are also included with other popular Italian cookie recipes, such as pignoli cookies, Ricotta cookies, Anginetti, and Italian Butter Cookies, as part of special occasion celebrations all year long.


The list of ingredients for these Sicilian chocolate spice cookies is long, but everything is easy to find and the recipe is really simple to make.


  • Use large room-temperature eggs.
  • Vegetable or canola oil can be used. I would not recommend using Olive oil as it will change the taste of the cookies.
  • Shortening – You can use either regular or butter-flavored shortening.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips are both delicious in this recipe.
  • Any flavor of jam or preserves that you like works fine. I like berry flavors, but orange or apricot also tastes great.
  • Sift the all-purpose flour and baking powder together so that the baking powder is evenly distributed throughout the dough.


4 photos of the cookie making process.


  1. Make the dough: Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer beat the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Mix the milk, vegetable oil, shortening, and cocoa powder into the egg mixture. Then add the remaining ingredients except the flour mixture. Blend well and add the sifted flour and baking powder to form a chocolate dough. The cookie dough should be soft but not sticky.
  2. Roll the cookies into 1 1/2 ” inch balls and place them about 2 inches apart on a baking mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the cookies in a 350-degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are lightly browned. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting
  4. Frost the cookies: In a medium bowl whisk the confectioners’ or icing sugar, milk and vanilla until it is smooth. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and place them on a wire cooling rack until the frosting is dry.
A plate of chocolate cookies with white frosting surrounded by cookies and Christmas ornaments.


Use room temperature ingredients so that everything blends together easily.

I use a small cookie scoop to help me form the dough into similar-sized cookies.

We have always made these with a simple white frosting, but chocolate frosting can be substituted if you want more chocolate flavor.

Feel free to decorate these cookies with candy sprinkles for a more festive look.

A little nutmeg can be added to the batter to make it a little spicier.


These cookies can be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap and foil, and placed in a cool location. They can also be frozen after frosting them! This is perfect during the holidays when you have so many Christmas cookies to bake. Place them in an airtight freezer-safe container lined with wax paper. The cookies can be stacked with wax paper between each layer. They will stay fresh for up to 2 months. Thaw them at room temperature before enjoying them with a cup of coffee!

Italian Chocolate spice cookies on a plate surrounded by ornaments and cinnamon sticks.


What are Italian meatball cookies?

Tetu or Italian Chocolate Spice cookies are sometimes called Italian meatball cookies. Because of their round shape and chocolatey color, they resemble meatballs. Makes sense!

Can Italian Chocolate Spice cookies be made ahead?

The cookie dough for these cookies can be made up to a day ahead. Place the dough in an air-tight container or cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. Remove it from the refrigerator and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about an hour before baking the cookies.


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Chocolate cookies with white frosting on a plate surrounded by Christmas ornaments.

Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies (Tetú)

Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies are moist, chocolatey cookies with a hint of cinnamon and clove. They have fruits, chocolate and nuts baked into them for a little surprise in every bite.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 70 cookies
Calories 105 kcal



  • 3 Eggs large
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • ¾ cups Milk
  • ½ cup Vegetable oil
  • ½ cup Shortening
  • 4 tbsp Cocoa powder unsweetened
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp Almond extract
  • tsp Clove
  • ½ Orange juice and zest
  • ¼ cup Jam your favorite fruit jam or preserves
  • ¾ cup Walnuts
  • ½ cup Chocolate chips
  • ½ cup Raisins
  • 4 tsp Baking powder
  • cups All purpose flour

Glaze Frosting

  • 2 cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla



  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Whisk together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  • Combine eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, shortening, and cocoa to the egg mixture and beat well, about 2 minutes. There may still be bits of shortening in the mixture.
  • Mix in the remaining ingredients, except the flour mixture, beating until everything is well combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and mix until the flour has been fully incorporated into the dough. The dough will be the consistency of a drop cookie but not sticky. It should hold it's shape when you roll it into a ball.
  • Roll the dough into 1½" balls and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. The bottom of the cookie should be lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cookies should be completely cooled before frosting.

Glaze Frosting

  • Combine all of the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. The glaze should be pourable but not thin. If it is too thin, a tablespoon of confectioners sugar at a time until you get the desired consistency. If it is too thick, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.


Use a small cookie scoop to help make the cookies uniform in size.


Serving: 70cookiesCalories: 105kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 29mgPotassium: 40mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 17IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Chocolate, cocoa, raisins, nuts, orange, cinnamon, clove, Christmas
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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    1. Hi Deb
      That refers to the juice and zest of 1/2 and orange. I will clarify that in the recipe. Thanks for pointing that out.


  1. 5 stars
    This Italian cookie is another classic that I love!! It’s chocolate and spice worlds colliding to make magic!!!

  2. 5 stars
    Finally!! I have made these for yrs! I am 65yo Polish and baked these since I was 14yo. My mom always made them with recipe from her old Italian friend. We never knew the name so we called them fondly ITALIAN BROWNIES!! Ny son’s favorite. When I bite into these my childhood burst alive in my mind..so happy to see the origins and variations of this special cookie. We never used fruit or black pepper. Thank you!

    1. I am so happy that you this recipe was just what you were looking for! Thank you so much for letting me know what these cookies mean to you! They are part of my childhood too!

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