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.
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
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
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
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 minutes, or until set.
- Once cool, spread the top with frosting and garnish with a few additional chopped walnuts. Allow frosting to harden before stacking.
Yield: 40-50 cookies.