Sicilian Bones of the Dead

Bones of the dead

I think this recipe for Sicilian Bones of the Dead will show you how different the recipes passed down generations in my family are so specific to the cities from which my Sicilian family came, Pozzalo, Modica, and Siculiana which are geographically very close together. So many times I have said that the foods we cook and bake are unique but this recipe in particular might even strike you as a little strange because of its name.

The main ingredient in Sicilian Bones of the Dead is confectionery sugar. That in itself is very sweet being used mostly in frosting. In this recipe, it is the main ingredient in the cookie dough. Sicilian Bones of the Dead are not frosted.

Sicilian Bones of the Dead start with making the sweet dough. Follow the directions in the recipe below to form the cookies. The next part seems a little “different” but you leave the cookies on the cookie sheet to dry overnight. The next day when you bake them, the sugar comes out of the hard cookie shells. They will be crunchy on the outside with a pool of sugar!

They are delicious and sweet!

Sicilian Bones of the Dead

Makes 6 dozen cookies                                                                           
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Bake 11 minutes                                                                  


4 c. confectionery sugar
1 ¼ c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 beaten eggs

Water if dough is too dry


In a large bowl mix the confectionery sugar, flour, baking powder and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs.

Add the eggs to the flour/sugar mixture and mix with a wooden spoon. Dough will be lumpy and dry until the eggs are mixed in well. Continue to mix in the eggs by hand until it forms a dough that you can work into a ball. If it is sticky, add a little flour and mix it in.  If it is too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time and mix in until you can form the dough into a ball that is firm and not sticky.

Work on a lightly floured surface. Take a handful-sized portion of dough and roll into a long, thick rope about a half inch around. Cut diagonally into 3 ½ inch long pieces.

Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.   Place the cut pieces on the cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Spacing is necessary. Repeat this with all of the cookie dough.

Let stand overnight to dry cookies.

Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 11 minutes or until they are golden brown and crusty/hard. Leave in another minute if they are not. A pool of sugar comes out of the cookies as they bake.

Dunk cookies in coffee.

Sicilian Bones of the Dead are very delicious!

bones dough spoon Dough should be firm enough to hold up a spoon.

Bones rolled and cut Roll dough and cut diagonally.

Bones on baking sheetSpace between cookies is necessary.

Bones bakedBaked Bones of the Dead cooling.

img_20150409_170210264_0104Baked and ready to enjoy!


Sicilian Bones of the Dead — 15 Comments

  1. Oh my Mary !!! Would love to bake these in Wyoming. High altitude. Any suggestions on how to alter for baking these in the mountains.

    • Hi Christy,
      I have never baked at high altitudes but I imagine that it is quite challenging. Wyoming has different altitudes in different areas. The area I am looking at is at 6,700 feet. I have made some adjustments for you to try.

      Decrease baking powder by 1 teaspoon
      Decrease confectionery sugar by 8 tablespoons.
      Increase flour by adding 1 extra tablespoon.
      Bake them at 400 degrees.

      You can try this out and please let me know how they turn out. If you live in an area at a different altitude, let me know and I will see what I can find. I might be able to adjust the recipe accordingly.

      Thanks for writing!


  2. Hi Christy! The changes I made to the Bones of the Dead recipe should work for you. The changes are for the altitude you are at. Fingers crossed! Let me know how they turn out. I’ve been making a lot of other recipes handed down in my family. I’ve been having fun cooking! Lots of recipes coming!

  3. Got the dough finished and are drying as I type.

    In order for me to not have dough sticky I did have to re-add the flour taken out for altitude and 3 more tablespoons. Go figure. High altitude is real tough to cook & bake here.

    Excited to bake these babies.

  4. I have to say that my first taste. They are really good. Crunchy just right to dip into coffee.

    They split open on the side of dough. They don’t look that great.

    Altitude adjustment was probably right. I will try these again when I’m home.

    • Christy, Your cookies came out wonderful! They look just like mine, each one a little different from the others. Because of the way they bake, no two are the same. The sugar pours out of the side of the cookies and as you say, they don’t look that great, they do look the way they are supposed to look! I hope you enjoyed them! Thanks for your feedback! I love hearing from you! Mary

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