Bocconotti are a deliciously traditional sweet treat from the region of Calabria in Italy. These pastries feature a rich buttery pastry dough and are filled with an incredibly decadent chocolate almond filling.
Whether you serve Bocconotti as a dessert, snack or a weekend breakfast, they are sure to be a hit with anyone who tries them!
I love honoring my late mother’s homeland of Calabria by baking these Bocconotti! Just like my Italian Anise Cookies, Honey Balls or Cuccidati, these Bocconotti are rich, flavorful and incredibly moorish. The perfect example of typical Calabrian recipes.
Bocconotti are perfect for entertaining and in Italy are traditionally served at baptisms, birthdays and Christmas. And like my Brutti ma Buoni cookies, they are the perfect sweet treat to enjoy while you socialize and chat with your friends or family.
My recipe for Bocconotti Calabresi is loaded with rich dark chocolate, sweet almonds and a hint of cinnamon. Think of these as filled Italian cookies that are a tantalizing combination of textures and flavors making them hard to resist. I bet you won’t be able to stop at one!
Why you’ll love this Bocconotti recipe:
- The flavor of these Bocconotti is so rich and decadent but not overly sweet.
- It is a versatile recipe that works well for dessert, snacking or even breakfast.
- The texture is similar to a delicate and tender, filled cookie with melt in the mouth pastry and a slightly crumbly but moist interior.
- This traditional Calabrese recipe is ideal for celebrations and entertaining.
- Bocconotti are so customizable! They’re found in various regions of southern Italy with different fillings like cherry or grape jam, nutella and others. You can fill them with whatever you like to suit your tastes or the ingredients you have on hand.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
Table of Contents
- Butter - I recommend using unsalted butter for the Bocconotti pastry. Salted butter can be substituted. If you use salted butter don't add any extra salt.
- Sugar - You will need superfine granulated sugar (sometimes known as castor sugar) for this Bocconotti recipe. However use regular white granulated sugar if that’s all you have.
- Eggs - Large free range eggs are my preference here but use what you have and like.
- Flour - Regular all purpose flour (also known as plain flour) easily available at all supermarkets.
- Baking powder - Just a little, to give the shortcrust pastry some lightness.
- Lemon zest - The zest of lemon adds flavor to the pastry dough. Take care not to grate the bitter white pith. Wash the lemons well to remove any residue or purchase organic lemons. Alternatively you might be lucky enough to have a back yard lemon try like I have.
- Almonds - Choose natural raw almonds with their skin on. Store any leftover nuts in the freezer to prevent them becoming rancid.
- Dark chocolate - Good quality dark, bittersweet chocolate is a key ingredient to making these Bocconotti. Use a milder chocolate if you prefer.
- Cocoa powder - Look for unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Ground cinnamon - A little spice to add flavor and is traditional in this recipe.
- Milk - As I always say, this isn’t diet food so full cream milk is my preference.
- Dark rum - Choose a brand that you like the taste of. Only a little is used so there is very minimal alcohol content but if you don't use alcohol see the substitutions below. Also unlike Zuppa Inglese, in this recipe the alcohol is cooked off in the baking process.
- Salt - Just a pinch to bring out the chocolate flavors. Remember if you are using salted butter, this won't be necessary to add into the pastry dough.
- Powdered sugar - I love finishing these Bocconotti with a dusting of powdered sugar once they are cooled.
See recipe card for quantities.
Preheat oven as directed in the recipe below. Spray the molds with non stick spray and sprinkle with flour. Tap out excess flour and set aside. The molds can be either mini tart pans or mini muffin pans.
Beat butter until creamy then add sugar until combined. Add the egg and egg yolk gradually. Beat in until combined.
Combine the flour, baking powder and lemon zest with the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
Form a dough and then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Begin preparing the filling. First process the almonds, dark chocolate, sugar and cocoa powder until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
Stir the almond mixture into the heated milk, rum and cinnamon. Once cool, stir in the egg yolk.
In a separate bowl, beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites.
Roll out the dough and line each mold with a circle of dough.
Fill the pastry lined tartlet pans with the prepared filling and use the leftover pastry to make a lid to cover the filling.
Bake filled bocconotti in the preheated oven until golden. Dust with powdered sugar when cool.
- Chocolate - You could use milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate, but the Bocconotti will turn out a little sweeter.
- Nuts - Try substituting raw walnuts or hazelnuts for the raw almonds.
- Rum - Substitute with extra milk. If you still want a little rum flavor but not the alcohol, add a little rum essence or extract.
- Fruity - Instead of making the almond mixture, you could fill Bocconotti with your favorite jam. Cherry, apricot or wild berry jam would be delicious!
- Nutella - Fill these cookies with decadent Nutella instead of the almond mixture.
- Festive - You could fill these with my Cuccidati filling which is loaded with dried fruits, toasted nuts, spices and honey.
- Presentation - For a different presentation, you can bake the Bocconotti without the pastry ‘lid’ so your guests can see the chocolate almond filling.
I used mini tart pans to make Bocconotti. If you don’t own mini tart pans or can’t buy them, you can use mini muffin tins to make small Italian Bocconotti cookies.
These Italian cookies will store well in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Please refer to the FAQs below for information on freezing these Bocconotti.
Tips for Success and FAQ’s
I always recommend using high-quality ingredients for baking because it makes a big difference in the flavor. For this type of recipe, remember to use good quality chocolate, eggs and butter which should be a room temperature for best results.
Don’t forget to chill the pastry dough. Aim for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator, but you can chill the dough for longer if you have more time.
Be sure to roll the pastry dough out evenly. An even thickness will ensure the pastries bake at the same time. Keep the pastry to ⅓ inch (4mm) thickness for the best ratio of filling to pastry.
In English, Bocconotti translates to small bites or bite sized which perfectly describes this Italian favorite! The word “bocconotti” is a derivative of “boccone” which means bite and it takes just a couple of bites to finish off one of these delicious tartlets.
You can freeze Bocconotti in an airtight container for 2-3 months. When you want to enjoy them, just remove from the freezer and allow them to slowly come down to room temperature. I like to leave the cookies to defrost in their storage container as it prevents too much condensation from forming. You could always pop them in a low oven to refresh.
The easiest way to prepare Bocconotti tins is to spray them with a non stick spray and sprinkle with flour. Tap out excess flour.
You could also grease with soft butter before flouring. I like the extra insurance of flour so that the bocconotti don't stick.
Bocconotti are ideal after a delicious Italian meal of Gnocchi alla Sorrentina, with some Semolina Bread for dunking and a side of my Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad. All you need is a strong cup of Italian coffee which pairs perfectly with these Italian filled cookies.
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- 4 oz (115 grams)unsalted butter
- ½ cup (100 grams)granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 ¼ cups (282 grams)all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- pinch salt
- ½ cup (70 grams) almonds skin on
- 2 oz (60 grams) dark chocolate chopped
- ⅓ cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup (60 mls) whole milk
- 1 tablespoon (15 mls) dark rum
- 1 egg white reserved from the pastry
- 1 large egg separated
- pinch salt
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Beat butter until creamy then add sugar and beat until combined.
- Add the egg and egg yolk gradually. Beat in until combined. Don’t overbeat because that can make the pastry difficult to handle.
- Mix in ⅔ flour and baking powder and lemon zest.
- Add the remaining flour by hand if necessary.
- Form into a ball then flatten out. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Spray 12 mini tart pans with non stick spray and sprinkle with flour. Tap out excess flour. You can also use mini muffin pan. In this case, you would be making more than 12 bocconotti.
- Cut off ⅓ dough and set aside. Place the remaining dough between two sheets of parchment paper. I also like to sprinkle a little flour underneath and on the top of the dough as extra insurance.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out to ⅓ inch (4mm) thickness. Use round cookie cutters to press out as many circles as possible. Then carefully lined each mold with a circle of dough. If the dough comes above the outer rim, use your fingers to cut off excess dough.
- Press together leftover dough and repeat the rolling and lining of the molds. You should have 12 lined molds or more if you use mini muffin pans.
- Fill the pastry lined molds with the prepared filling.
- Use leftover and reserved dough to roll out as above. With an appropriate sized cookie cutter cut lids for the bocconotti. Cut a slit in each lid to allow any steam to escape.
- Place the lids on each filled bocconotti then press the edges to seal. With you fingers, press against the sides of the pan and remove any excess pastry.
- Place the filled bocconotti on a baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes until lightly golden and puffed.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Spread almonds on baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until fragrant. Allow to cool.
- Process almonds, dark chocolate, granulated sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
- Heat milk until just before simmering.
- Remove from the heat stir in the almond mixture along with the rum and cinnamon. Set aside until cool then stir in the egg yolk.
- In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.
- Fold a couple of spoonfuls of egg white into the almond and chocolate mixture to lighten it.
- Then fold the lightened almond and chocolate mixture into the egg whites carefully. The mixture will deflate a little but that’s fine.
- The filling is now ready.
- Have all ingredients at room temperature.
- Chill the pastry as directed in the recipe.
- Roll the pastry out evenly to ensure even baking and the correct pastry to filling ratio.
Nutritional Estimate Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.