Quaresimali – Lent alphabet cookies

Quaresimali are alphabet cookies from Florence, Italy.  Their name derives from the fact that they were originally a Lenten cookie, for quaresma or the 40 days of lent. They are traditionally made with alphabet cutters.  From: Williams Sonoma Savoring Tuscany

It isn’t easy to find a nice recipe for a hard, crisp chocolate cookie and this certainly fits the bill.  They work just as well made into other shapes than traditional letters.



  1. ½ cup unsalted butter, room temp.
  2. ¾ cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 ¼ cups flour
  6. ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  7. ½ teaspoon salt
  8. ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter & sugar until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in flour, orange zest, salt, & cocoa until well combined.
  3. Form into two balls and roll between 2 pieces of wax paper about ¼”

Chill for an hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper 

  1. After chilling the dough, continue to roll to 1/8” thickness.
  2. Dust with flour and cut with alphabet cutters or with cutters of your choice.
  3. Take scraps and make a ball, roll out as before and chill.  In this manner, use up all the dough.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool on the pan for 2 minutes. Transfer to rack.

Yield:  2 dozen cookies

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