Tuesday, December 18, 2012

recipe: Totos Italian cookies

If you're part Italian, these cookies may bring back memories for you.

I used to have them at Auntie Adeline's, but I always thought Uncle Charlie got them at the Italian bakery. And I never knew what they were called.

Years later at the library, I got into conversation with a woman - I hardly remember it, really - but I ended up with a recipe for cookies called "Totos". And they are the ones!

A few years ago we had a post holiday get-together - my Italian cousins - and I made them. Oh, the teasing I got - "just like Auntie Adeline's"!  So - she had baked them herself.  My half-Sicilian cousins pronounce them something like "duh DAWS". Well, so much for "toe toes" (and your little dog, too).  I don't know how they are really pronounced or which region they come from; they're not in any Italian cookbook we have at the library.  I've seen a few versions of the recipe online but they contain Crisco - mine has oil.  I'll keep mine, thank you!

I thought I would share it -


Mix dry ingredients together first -

4 c. flour
1 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves

Set aside.

Mix up:

1 egg
1 cup cold coffee
2/3 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. lemon zest

Now mix in the dry, a few tablespoons at a time. (You can actually just throw everything into the bowl together, but I find it easier to do it this way - it's more orderly.)

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 c. of chopped nuts and 1 c. raisins. I tend to leave out the nuts, so more raisins than a cup would be good. Mix them in, whatever they are. The dough is sticky.

With well-oiled hands, roll balls of about a soup spoon size and put them on a greased sheet. You'll get four or five dozen. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes - yes, they take a while!   Start checking them at 20 mins; that might be enough.

They don't spread, which is nice, and come off the cookie sheets very neatly. When they're cool, mix up an icing with the juice of a lemon and about 2 c. of xxx sugar. 

Buon Appetito!


  1. My Mommom made these every year; they were my absolute favorite since I was a little girl. She's long past now; I make pizzelle for my grandson who loves the anise seeds crackling between his teeth. I plan to try your recipe as Mommom's passed with her. I'll let you know how they turn out!

  2. Oh, please do! I look forward to your report.

    I hadn't heard of pizzelles with seeds in them!