Sardinian Spice Cookies

Papassini are traditional Sardinian spice cookies and without a doubt, the best spice cookie I have ever eaten! The combination of citrus, raisins and spices, produces a depth of flavor that gets even better after a few days. They are addictive. As an added bonus, your kitchen will be permeated with the most amazing aroma. The cookie dough is traditionally rolled out and cut into diamond shapes. I use a different method as you’ll note in the directions below.



  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 8 teaspoons whole milk, divided
  • 1 cup whole almonds, toasted, cooled
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup golden raisins (I used regular raisins because I didn’t have golden)
  1. Using a small bowl, mix together the confectioners sugar and 5 teaspoons of milk. Stir until smooth. Cover, set aside to glaze cookies after baking.
  2. Combine almonds and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until most nuts are reduced to 1/4-inch pieces (some will be very finely ground).
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon and orange zest, anise seeds, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda. Add the butter.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat at low speed until it is the size of corn meal. Beat in the egg yolks and the remaining 3 teaspoons of milk. Stir in the nuts and raisins. At this point, the mixture is dry and doesn’t feel or look like dough at all (which is why it’s necessary to get your hands dirty).
  5. Using your hands, work the mixture until it holds together (just like making meatballs). Tear of a portion of the dough, shape into an oval, flatten slightly and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat until you have used all the dough.
  6. Bake 1 sheet at a time in a preheated 350* for 17-22 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie.
  7. The first batch (2 1/2-inches x 2-inches) made 30 cookies and baked for 17 minutes. The second batch was a more generous size   (3 1/2-inches x 2-1/2-inches), made 24 cookies and baked a few minutes longer. Cookies will be golden brown. Spread a generous half teaspoon of glaze on each hot cookie, spread with the back of spoon to coat. Leave on baking sheet, let cool completely until glaze is set.
  8. Store in plastic airtight container with sheets of parchment between layers, at room temperature.



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