This Italian Roccocò recipe is a taralli-shaped crispy, spicy cookie originating in the Campania region of Italy. This Neapolitan Christmas treat gets its unique flavor from the combination of spices used to make them.
These crunchy cookies are the perfect addition to your cookie tray of Italian Christmas cookies during the festive holiday season!
The Italian region of Campania is well known for its unique Christmas cookies.
In addition to mostaccioli, chiacchiere, and struffoli, these Italian cookies are traditional Christmas treats frequently found in the southern Italian region of Naples.
Historically prepared by nuns in religious orders as early as 1320 throughout this Italian region, it is one of the region’s most appreciated, sought-after Christmas cookies. Read more about Roccocò history.
The unique flavor and texture of this taralli-shaped cookie is due to the unique blend of spices referred to as pisto Napoletano and baking ammonia as a leavening agent. The lovely aroma of spices makes them a favorite at holiday gatherings in Campania.
What is Pisto spice?
Pisto spice, also referred to as Pisto Napoletano spice blend, is a fragrant and flavorful mix of spices commonly used in the Naples region. It includes cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, star anise, coriander, and white pepper. It is often used as an ingredient in mostaccioli.
True to Italian regional cuisine, every family has variations of this spice blend. You can tailor the taste by varying the amounts of the different spices.
If you’re looking for a unique and delicious cookie to add to your holiday cookie plate, look no further than this Neapolitan cookie! You won’t believe how easily they come together.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Position the oven rack in the center.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Specifically, 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of each ground anise star, coriander, Kosher salt and white pepper.
Add 1¼ cups granulated sugar, the zest of one organic orange, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped candied orange peel. Combine thoroughly together.
Add ½ cup of warm water in three separate additions and mix until the dough comes together.
Finally, add 1 cup of toasted almonds and combine.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, then knead it a few times until there are no visible flour streaks.
Form into a large log.
Portion into 35-gram portions (or the equivalence of about 2 tablespoons).
Roll into a 5-inch strand about ½ inch in diameter. Combine the two ends to form a ring. Refer to the video in this post to see how this is done.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Continue this process with the rest of the dough.
Brush cookies with whisked egg.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they get once they are at room temperature.
Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- You can use a variety of nuts for this easy cookie recipe. Hazelnuts and walnuts are great alternatives to almonds.
- Replace the candied orange peel with other candied fruit, such as lemon rind or grapefruit peel.
- As mentioned, the spice blend can also be adjusted to your taste by varying the amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices.
- These delicious cookies can be garnished with blanched almonds.
Once they have cooled to room temperature, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for one week.
These cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Place in an airtight container and keep in the freezer until you’re ready to indulge in them. To thaw, leave them at room temperature for several hours or overnight.
Often referred to as a jawbreaker cookie, this is supposed to be a hard cookie. To create a cookie with a softer texture, reduce the baking time. These cookies may be soft when you remove them from the oven, but they’ll harden as they cool.
According to tradition, Roccoco cookies are best enjoyed by dipping into Vin Santo or sweet wine to soften the cookie. Although some may disagree, you can dip this cookie in espresso or your favorite cup of java.
Food of Campania
With its rich and diverse flavors, it is no wonder that the Italian region of Campania has some delicious dishes and desserts.
As mentioned, it is home to mostaccioli, struffoli and chiacchiere. But there are also savory dishes like pizza Margherita and eggplant parmesan.
And, of course, a trip to Campania is not complete without trying the region’s famous acqua pazza, Caprese salad and limoncello. All are sure to tantalize your taste buds!
Another Neapolitan favorite is pastiera, with its smooth, creamy ricotta cheese filling nestled inside a golden, flaky pasta frolla crust. Perfect for an Italian Easter brunch or any celebration!
Roccocò adds a delightful touch to your holiday cookie plate and is an iconic Christmas treat in Naples. With a unique flavor profile of pisto Napoletano spices, these cookies make for a delicious bite.
My mom was born in Benevento, in the Italian region of Campania. It is a small town in Southern Italy, close to Naples.
My mom’s friend, Nunzia, also born in Benevento, introduced this cookie to my family. If you recall, she also introduced me to this recipe for these addictive thin crispy biscotti a few decades ago.
If you have visited here before, you probably know I have always been fascinated by cookies.
From the first time I tasted these crispy cookies, I thought Nunzia was on to something amazing. Grazie Nunzia ♥
Over the years, I made minor changes to Nunzia’s Roccocò biscotti and finally had a chance to update it after many requests from family and friends.
I truly hope that you have the chance to try this amazing crispy cookie.
I can’t wait to read your comments!
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community, where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
Ciao for now,
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★★★★★ If you have made these Neapolitan traditional Christmas cookies, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Italian Roccocò Recipe: Spicy Neapolitan Cookies
- 1¾ cups flour all-purpose, 250 grams
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon ground
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg ground
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves ground
- pinch star anise ground
- pinch coriander ground
- pinch salt
- pinch white pepper
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar 250 grams
- 1 zest orange organic
- 2 tablespoons candied orange peel 50 grams
- ½ cup water warm
- 1 cup almonds toasted
- extra flour for dusting wooden board
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Position the oven rack in the center. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, star anise, coriander, salt, and white pepper).
- Add the sugar, orange zest and candied orange peel and combine thoroughly.
- Gradually add the warm water in three separate additions and combine.
- Finally, add the nuts to combine.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, then knead it a few times until there are no visible flour streaks.
- Form into a large log.
- Portion into 35-gram portions (or the equivalence of about 2 tablespoons). Refer to the video in this post to see how this is done.
- Roll into a 5-inch strand about ½ inch in diameter.
- Combine the two ends to form a ring.
- Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Continue this process with the rest of the dough.
- Brush cookies with egg wash.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. The longer they stay in the oven, the harder they get.
- Allow to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
This post was originally published on December 1, 2016, and republished on December 1, 2022, with updated photos, content and a video. Thanks for sharing.
Evelina Del Duca
I made your recipe today! We loved them.Better than the Italian bakery in N Y! Thank you.
Oh wow! What a wonderful compliment! I will be sure to pass the comment on to my mom’s friend! Thanks so much Evelina!
Hi Maria, I tried making these cookies today, but when I took them from the oven they had all melted together into almost 1 cookisz sheet. I followed the instructions and e sn reread it to see if I had missed something but it seems as though I did all steps correctly. Any ideas?
Thanks. I’ve loved all the recipes I’ve tried so far.
I am so sorry to read this Charity. Let me see if I can help. The usual culprit is the flour. Did you weigh it or did you measure it out in cups? Also, were you able to roll out the dough to form the ring-shaped cookie?
I was wondering if I can use baking ammonia instead of baking powder and would it be the same amount? Also can I double the recipe?
Thank you for all your wonderful recipes, I always enjoy your recipe origins and the history of the dishes, including the stories and family info which makes your site so personable. I feel like I’m in your kitchen sharing an espresso and just chatting.
Thanks so much for your kind words Debbie. Yes, it is the same amount. I have never tried to double the recipe, but it should be fine. Have fun dunking your cookie!
i am a first generation Italian woman, a transplant from Connecticut living in North Carolina and missing my Italian foods and culture. I love your web site and your recipes. I have made your almond biscotti and Roccoco which were super delicious, even my mother and uncle thought they were outstanding…i was so glad to make them for them. Thank you for the recipe. I tried to make the brutti ma buoni but they did not come out as i had expected…i’ll keep trying. Thank you again!!!
Hello Maria! My dad & I just made your Roccoco cookie today. We just love them! It’s a nice treat with coffee or tea. I also made your rice pudding the other day. Highly recommended it to all! Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes you share with us.
Take care & stay healthy!
Thanks so much Gina! So, so happy that you are enjoying the recipes. Thanks for taking the time to share, appreciate it!
My mouth is watering. I’ve not heard of these cookies before and definitely am going to try. Thanks.
Hope you like them Deb! Thanks for dropping by 🙂
What a wonderful new cookie recipe! So glad you included it as part of the Cookie exchange!
Love the shape.
Cristina @ I Say Nomato
Wowww these look so delicious! I started drooling at all your Italian baked goods list, and didn’t stop until the end! They sound amazing.
Thanks Cristina! So much more to come! Appreciate you dropping by 🙂