Italian Clove Cookies

Allow me to share a story…

My parents host our family Thanksgiving. I’m not sure how it came to be, but my participation includes going home the day before to help my mom prepare the food and get the house ready for guests.

She says I get to be her “special helper.” I tell her it’s not that special, but I show up every year anyway.

Last year I wanted to make my mom her favorite cookies, Italian Clove Cookies. I had never made them before, so I didn’t know that the dough is very thick and that her recipe would call for an awful lot of it.

Long story short, I broke her hand mixer and she didn’t get any cookies.

Oops.

Fast forward to this past weekend, which I had planned on spending with my parents at their new house. Armed with my stand mixer, capable of mixing any dough, I finally made my mom a batch of the cookies as a housewarming gift.

She loved them, and I hope that puts to rest the occasional “I don’t know what you did to my mixer Aimee, but you definitely broke it.”

Have another cookie, Mom! I love you, Mom!

The recipe for these Italian Clove Cookies is “Lena’s Cookies.”  Lena was a neighbor of my mom’s growing up in Peabody, MA.

italian clove cookies

On sight you expect these cookies to taste like chocolate, but instead you get a spicy combination of cocoa, cinnamon, and cloves.  It’s no surprise that many people associate these cookies with the Christmas season – they have that warm Christmassy aroma.

They are also sometimes called Italian Meatball Cookies, which I ignore for obvious reasons.

Put them on your cookie “must-make” list!

Italian Clove Cookies
Adapted from Lena

Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients
2 cups confectionary sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
3-4 tsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, cocoa, cloves, and cinnamon.
  • In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) mix together sugar, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla.
  • Add flour mixture to wet mixture in small batches and mix until combined.  Dough will be very stiff.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Break off pieces of dough and roll into balls the size of walnuts.  Arrange on baking sheet with a few inches between, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until set.
  • Once cool, dip the top in frosting and garnish with a few additional chopped walnuts.  Allow frosting to harden before stacking.

Yield:  40-50 cookies.

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Categories: Cookies & Bars

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11 Comments on “Italian Clove Cookies”

  1. mgw
    July 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    All I can say is “Yummmmy!” ( And you’re forgiven.)

  2. These sound really good. And definitely Christmasy. I’m going to add them to my must bake list for sure!

  3. July 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Chocolate and clove sounds wonderful! Funny that they’re referred to as meatball cookies. In Italy I learned to make a dessert called salami dolce, “sweet salami” because they looked like salami.

  4. July 17, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    Nothing like Christmas in July :) These cookies sound spicy and fragrant and wonderful. Like Christmas, indeed.

  5. July 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    These sound so delicious!!!! Ill have to try them- I bet that my mom would love them as well!

  6. January 25, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Yesssssss!!!!!!! I am a clove FREAK. My husband hates it because I put nutmeg and cloves in just about everything (nutmeg in pumpkin soup I discovered from my soup Bible–om nom nom). I make a wonderful spiced hot chocolate that overwhelms his tender tastebuds with the explosion of awesome.

    So I would probably get these cookies all to myself. These look amazing and I can already smell them–haha! I can’t wait to make these. Thank you Aimee, and thank you Lena!

  7. November 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    I am going to try and make these gluten free. I’ll let you know the results! I love cloves, so I am super excited to see if I like the chocolote-clove taste sensation.

  8. Anonymous
    December 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    We had part of my MIL’s recipe and this helped us out! She calls her’s Todos….

  9. judy hogan
    June 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    I have burned up many a mixer on these,finally got a stand mixer also :) i use strong hot coffee instead of water in icing,adds a little xtra to them.

  10. Anonymous
    December 14, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    frosting doesn’t work
    there must be a typo
    not enough liquid for the dry ingredients

  11. Anonymous
    January 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Lena must have been a friend of my moms as well. We are also from Peabody. My mom made these every holiday for us and now I do too.

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