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Ossa di Mortu -- Bones of the Dead

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Ossa di Mortu, or Bones of the Dead: There are many versions of the Bones of the Dead, cookies Italians make for the Day of the Dead, November 2. These are Sicilian bones of the Dead, made from the same paste used to make Easter lambs.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes


  • Sugar and Flour (see below for amounts)
  • Bone molds


"A treat for November 2, which is a children's holiday" says Pino Correnti, who goes on to say that it's traditional in eastern Sicily to make skulls and tibias with a very white dough that contrasts sharply with the sections where the sugar darkened close to the pan during baking. They do require the appropriate skull or tibia-shaped molds; your best bet will be a specialty store (don't forget Mexicans do things with skulls too, if you cannot find something Sicilian, and if you cannot find anything Haloweenish think of other seasons or use butter molds). The dough is the same used for making simple Sicilian Easter pastries, and is made by combining equal weights of sugar and flour (if you lack a scale, a pound of flour is about 4 cups; a pound of sugar is 2 cups), and adding to them freshly ground cloves, figuring 1/4 ounce by weight for every 2 pounds of dough. Combine the ingredients with water (go easy) over a brisk flame, and as soon as they have fused together press the dough into the molds, which should be freshly washed and dried.

Let the dough sit in the molds for a couple of days, then remove them, dampen their undersides with a little water, and bake them briefly in a hot (380 F, 190 C) oven. The sugar will rise through the undersides of the cookies, acquiring a pretty brownish cast.

This dough is also used to make Easter Lambs.

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