Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

Choosing the right name is important.

 Twenty-five years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I deliberated over baby names.  We had no official notification of whether we were having a boy or a girl. I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I knew I was having a girl because I had met her in my dreams. I had dreams where I was holding a black haired, blue eyed baby girl. My husband, the scientist, didn’t pay any attention to my “evidence”. He insisted that we pick a boy name and a girl name. Actually, he was rather convinced (I have no idea why) that we were having a boy, so convinced that he let me pick a girl name without any arguing.  I let him pick the boy name without too much debate, because I knew we wouldn’t be using it.

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

My husband leans toward short, traditional American names. I, on the other hand, love international names that have meanings. My daughter’s name is Meira, pronounced meer-ah. I chose the name because I like the sound and the meaning. Meira means “peace” in Russian. I later found out that Meira is also a Hindi goddess princess. In addition, variations of the name mean “enlightened” in Hebrew and “to look” in Spanish. All excellent, in my opinion.

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

 Unlike the significance of naming a child, naming a cookie is a minor detail. It is useful if the cookie name gives the eater an idea of what they are about to consume, such as Thin Mints, Graham Crackers, or Vanilla Wafers. A blogger naming a cookie might consider SEO (search engine optimization). What good is a delicious cookie with a name that no one can remember or search for? That is why this recipe is simply called Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies.

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

 Though a long name, it’s relatively accurate in describing this soft chocolate treat. Research seems to indicate that it is a traditional cookie baked by people of Italian decent, who inherited the recipe from Italian ancestors. So far, so good.

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

The inaccuracy is in the word “cookie”. This is more like a little domed cake. The texture is soft and spongy with a soft, slightly chewy surface. Then the glaze goes on top, providing a little crunch when you take a bite. If you choose to add decorating sugar, there is a little extra crunch (and they look fancier all dressed up).

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

 I will confess to fiddling with the original Italian version of this recipe. I don’t like nutmeg and allspice, so I left them out. If you like them, and would like to make a more traditional spice cookie, add a ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice. Because I eliminated the extra spices, I added chocolate covered raisins which go well with the cinnamon chocolate flavor and provide a bit of extra chewiness. If you don’t like raisins, mini chocolate chips can provide an extra chocolate boost instead.

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

 These cookie-cakes are excellent care package goodies. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, they stay soft and delicious for at least 2 weeks. The recipe can be made with desert-safe ingredients and the icing, once dry, ships beautifully even in hot weather.

Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

  Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Spoonful of Sugar

 (Printable recipe)

 Makes about 40 cookies

1 cup butter (or vegetable shortening for desert-safe recipe), melted

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup Dutch-process cocoa (regular cocoa can be used but doesn’t taste as chocolaty)

4 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/3 cup plain yogurt

7 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla paste for desert-safe recipe)

1 cup chocolate covered raisins( if raisin is large cut in half ) and/or mini chocolate chips


3 cups confectioner’s sugar

4 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or vanilla paste for desert-safe recipe)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

¼ cup sprinkles or decorating sugar (optional)

  • In a small bowl, microwave butter or vegetable shortening until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter (or vegetable shortening) and sugar until combined, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Mix in the eggs, yogurt, milk, and vanilla.
  • Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add dry ingredients until just combined.
  • Stir in raisins and/or mini chips.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour-overnight.

When dough is chilled and ready to bake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • With a 2 tablespoon scoop, form golf-ball sized dough balls.
  •  Roll into a ball with a smooth surface (no raisins or chips on the outer surface or finished cookie will have “craters”).
  •  Place on prepared cookie sheet about 2” apart, and bake for  10-12 minutes. (Finished cookie balls will have surface cracks which should look dry when done.)
  • Cool completely on wire racks before icing.


  • In a medium bowl, mix together confectioner’s sugar, milk, vanilla ( and cinnamon if using) to form a thick icing. If the icing is too thin it will drip down the sides of the cookie. (Not a problem but not as neat looking)
  • Hold bottom edges of cookie and dip into icing, top down. Shake gently to remove excess icing. If using sprinkles or decorating sugar, sprinkle on immediately after icing each individual cookie. The icing begins to set quickly.
  • Place the cookies on wire rack to dry.
  • Leave the cookies out several hours to overnight to allow the icing to set completely before wrapping.
  • These cookies are soft and cake-like. They will remain soft for at least 2 weeks if stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Packing tips: Wrap pairs of cookies, with bottoms together, in plastic wrap. Place in airtight containers or ziplock bags.

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43 thoughts on “Soft Italian Chocolate Cookies

  1. Meira is a beautiful name. And these cookies are so interesting. I love your creative substitutions and those gold sprinkles/sugar on top of them. My all-time favorite Italian “cookie” is the tri-color or rainbow cookies. Those are also more like petite fours or cake, and calling them “cookie” doesn’t seem to give them enough credit…but I guess, ultimately, it’s all about the taste.

    • Thanks, Monica. :) The sprinkles are just because I like bling on my cookies (though they do add crunch) :) I am wondering if the whole “cookie” concept with Italian “cookies” has to do with translation. Maybe English had a more limited idea of what constitutes a cookie. But, definitely the bottom line is the taste!

    • They have a different texture than baked donuts, Eva. More chewy, I think, but fluffy in the same way. You will probably need a dozen, anyway. The first is a sample. The next 11 are due to the addictive quality of these cookies. :)

    • Thank you, Sinead! I think your name is pretty as well, and has a beautiful meaning, “God is gracious”. The meaning behind a name is like a hidden treasure. :) These cookies traditionally have just the white icing but the sparkling golden sugar needed a home. :)

  2. It is funny how you were both so convinced the other was wrong that you conceded to each other’s name choices! These cookies (or mini cakes) sound delicious – no matter what they’re called!

    • It is funny in retrospect, Joanne. But in the end, I was right, as usual. :) These cookies really are a excellent soft and chewy change from regular crunchy flat cookies.

    • Thanks! They are so easy to make and stay tasty a long time too. :) I am glad you stopped by because now I found your blog that is full of yummy looking treats I can’t wait to try!

    • Thank you, Rosie. :) Because my kids have two last names (hyphen in the middle) we chose not to give middle names, but we debated over Rose as my daughters middle name. Its a beautiful name, sounds good with Meira, and was my husband’s grandmother’s name. :) So, I love your name too!

    • Thanks, Ashley! Like most Italian cookies, these are perfect with your beverage of choice. Mine is coffee but milk, tea, or wine would do. :) The sparkly gold decorating sugar is cookie bling. :)

    • Chandra, what a beautiful meaning! Not only does it communicate a beautiful visual but somehow contains in one word how much your parents love you. While pondering this philosophical response, have a cup of tea and a cookie. :)

  3. i am so intrigued by these cookies; i don’t think i’ve ever made anything like them and they’re beautiful! Meira is a beautiful name; it took forever for us to pick Stella’s name (sort of the same issues you had with husbands and pretty straightforward options). i halfheartedly picked boys’ names knowing that a girl was happening. :)

    • I know it isn’t scientific, but I really felt like I had already met my daughter when she was born. After hanging out together for 8 months (preemie) I kind of knew her. :) Stella(meaning star) is also a beautiful name! (And there won’t be 12 other little girls with the same name when she starts school!) I also had never made cookies like these before. The amount of baking powder in the recipe surprised me until I baked batch #1 and saw the cake-like texture. They are just so easy to make, taste good, and stay soft for so long. In the interest of public service I tried them with butter and with Crisco, with chips, raisins, and plain. All were tasty. My batch with espresso powder was disappointing. Not enough maybe? At some point I will tweak that. :)

      • aw, thank you! i thought the same thing when i named her: there shouldn’t be any duplicates in her class. :) Espresso powder can be tricky, because you never want to add too much (bitter!) but if you don’t add enough, it can lack in the flavor department. I’ve found that if i go a bit beyond my comfort zone with it, it turns out well.

    • Suzie, you are so sweet! Thank you for being my own personal cheering section. I am actively trying to include as many desert safe recipes as possible now that it is moving toward summer. Its a challenge, but I am learning (slowly) some tricks. :)

    • Thanks, Kiran! Pillowy is the perfect description for these cookies. :) The original recipe doesn’t use sprinkles but life is just a little more festive, as you said, with some sprinkles. :)

  4. Ah yes, the back and forth that goes on when trying to name a child…I love that you just KNEW that you were having a girl and found the perfect name. Although I do like my children’s names, I am convinced that I agreed to the first when I was feeling woozy from delivery…the name wasn’t anywhere on our “possible names” list! Ha!
    I am going to bake my grandmothers some cookies to send on Wednesday or Thursday so they get them on mother’s day. I am sure I’ll find a great recipe on your site. Thanks!

    • Very sneaky of your husband, Holly! :) I am glad the name turned out to be one you liked anyway! I hope you do find a recipe you like to send in your Mother’s Day packages. Let me know what you choose and how they turn out. :)

    • They are surprisingly soft, Zerrin, but sturdy at the same time, making them a good mailing cookie. The icing on the top helps keep them soft for several weeks!

  5. These look so delicious! However, I have been searching your blog for the recipe for you Chocolate Chip cookies!! I am on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie . . . again! Could you please direct me as to where to find it. Thank you!

    • Thanks,Cindy. :) I truly understand your quest! And I am very happy to share my favorite chocolate chip recipe! Its actually not on my site because its not mine. After extensive sampling, we are devoted to the Jaques Torres NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Several things make it different. It uses cake and bread flours instead of all purpose and a little corn starch for chew. Also it “requires” 24-36 hrs in the fridge before baking. We never want to wait that long so I always have a bag of frozen dough balls in a zip lock bag in the freezer so we can pop them straight into the oven (12 min.) whenever the need strikes. Let me know what you think!

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