'Tis the Season for Totos! Sicilian chocolate spice cookies.
This is my Christmas gift to you...
When I was a kid my dad and I waited all year for these soft and chocolatey fruit, nut and spice cookies. Growing up in an Italian American neighborhood on the East Coast, there were a few on every holiday Italian cookie platter. But even better, our neighbor, Mille Apice, would bake lots of them and bring a whole plate of just these.
She is gone now, but I have her recipe and make them myself every year. The recipe is pretty simple, makes quite large batch and they don't take too long. I give some as gifts, but I have found they also freeze pretty well so we eat them well into spring. Not sure why it never seems right to make them any other time of year, but we manage to suffer through until it's December again and....
Let me know how you like them!
Yep, that's me:)
Millie Apice's Sicilian Toto Recipe
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup shortening
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla
5 cups flour (1.5 lbs)
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground clove
1 cup chopped walnuts (I sometimes use pecans)
1 cup raisins (I sometimes use dried cherries)
3 tbsp butter
3 cups confectioner sugar, sifted
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp milk or black coffee
1/2 tsp orange oil or extract (optional)
Makes 50-60 cookies.
Preheat oven to 350. Using an electric mixer, cream shortening with sugar. Beat in eggs, then milk & vanilla until well incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together, add to wet mixture, blend until just incorporated, then add raisins & walnuts and mix in briefly on low. You may need to use your hands to knead nuts & raisins in, but don’t over knead it or the cookies will be tough.
Shape dough into balls the size of walnuts and and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet leaving room for expansion. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until they spring back when gently poked. Allow to cool completely, then frost.
To make frosting: Melt butter. Add all ingredients and mix until smooth enough to dip cookie tops into. It should be as thick as cake batter. Add more milk or coffee if too stiff. (You may need to add more as you go and it stiffens) Dip cookie tops and use spatula to spread if necessary. Place on waxed paper until dry.