A very chocolaty cookie that’s not too sweet yet has that crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside texture with a flavor reminiscent of the holidays!

Recently I had the opportunity to go through my mother-in-law’s collection of recipes some of which go back nearly 100 years. Each recipe was neatly typed and kept in a binder and included (when known) the name of the person who gave her the recipe. Many coming from her mother, Ada. Madeline was of Italian origin and so a lot of the recipes were focused on Italian cuisine.

I spent hours reading through the recipes and chose the ones I thought I would make and then share with our girls so that one day they too would share those recipes with their children. As we all know…kitchens are where memories are made.

Just talking to Mike about his mom’s recipes brought back memories and connected him to his past. He recalled all the wonderful things his mother would make, one of which was a chocolate cookie. In looking through the recipes, I found this Italian Chocolate Cookie recipe. Was it the one he remembered?!? Who knows…it has been 50 years!

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 lb. flour is 3 1/3 cups
  • ½ lb. sugar is 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp.
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ¼ lb. shortening is 2/3 cup or 10.6 Tbsp.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 – 1 cup nuts, optional
  • 1/2 cup chocolate, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree (F), line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour and sugar into a large bowl.
  3. Add in baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add in cocoa powder and mix.
  5. Cut in shortening until pea size pebbles form.
  6. Add in nuts* and chocolate* if using.
  7. Add in whiskey and milk and mix.
  8. Pour mixture onto counter and knead until everything is thoroughly mixed.
  9. Form into 1” to 1 ½” balls. Flatten slightly and bake for about 13 minutes.
  10. Cool on rack and dust with confectionary sugar if desired.


I must admit…I’m a milk and cookie type of girl, but the other night Mike and I were enjoying a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon when he brought out the cookies. What a lovely pairing cookies and wine turned out to be! The chocolate and the spices in the cookies worked so well with the full-bodied taste of the wine. The wine itself was a Trader Joe’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2017 with notes of red plum cocoa and delicately spiced oak. Who would have thought cookies and wine would be a thing.

I used 1/2 cup chopped walnuts  and 1/2 cup of chopped bittersweet chocolate. My preferred brand for chocolate is Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate. It comes in a box of three 2 oz bars. It is easy to cut up with a good knife.

Because I am not keen on using shortening, I did try several versions of this recipe. I first baked the cookies with lard and then I baked them with butter. Both were good fat options, but I decided to stay true to the recipe and made them with shortening.

Yes, it was an interesting afternoon as I sat with these recipes strewn all around me. I would have loved taking all of the recipe’s home, but they belonged to my sister-in-law Tina, and they were hers to cherish. Thanks, Tina, for sharing your mom’s prized recipes with me.