One of my favorite Christmas dessert cookies are Italian chocolate toto cookies. Not only are they delicious, they are super easy to make too.
They are different and unique and will be enjoyed by your guests at Christmas or whenever you choose to bake them.
Italian Chocolate Toto Cookies
I first had my first Italian chocolate toto cookies many years ago from my in-laws who are also Italian.
I’ve modified the toto recipe in a few minor ways to make them suit our tastes, and in addition, I also adjusted quantities for a smaller batch.
These special Italian toto cookies are small to medium balls (like pecan butterballs), but are made with chocolate and are dipped in an icing that has a hint of whiskey.
Toto Cookies with Whiskey
There are variations of the toto cookie out there, and some may not use whiskey, and instead opt for Rum. This is perfectly fine.
I fell in love with these cookies with the whiskey flavor even though I’m not a whiskey drinker.
This toto recipe has been my favorite version choice ever since.
These delicious Italian chocolate cookies are simple to make, but since you dip the toto cookies into an icing, you need to give it a good 24-48 hours for that icing to really set.
Trust me, well worth the wait!
Chocolate Toto Cookie Texture
Unlike my Italian snowball recipe, totos are more of a dense cake-like texture, involving milk, baking powder, flour, eggs, and cocoa, plus some other ingredients which I detail out below.
The dough will be slightly sticky, a mix between cake batter and standard cookie dough.
So please don’t keep adding flour, you need this cookie dough to be sticky.
Do you Have to Make Italian Toto Cookies with Whiskey?
There are a variety of Italian toto cookies out there. Some with icing, some without icing.
Some with alcohol, some without.
I’ve only had them with icing personally in our Italian get togethers during the holidays, but you can certainly avoid the icing all together.
In my personal opinion, the icing truly is the “icing on the cake”, especially with the flavor of the whiskey, which is just a hint of whiskey.
I still think the icing helps give some pizzazz to the cookies, and of course it looks incredibly impressive too!
How to Make Italian Toto Cookies
As I mentioned above, Italian toto cookies are very easy to make.
In a large mixing bowl mix all the dry ingredients (cocoa, clove, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and flour).
Notice the clove and cinnamon – this is why some people call these toto spice cookies.
In a separate bowl, blend the butter, eggs, milk, vanilla until it forms a smooth consistency.
Next add the liquids into the flour and mix. Although remember that it will be a little sticky and that is what you want.
Fold in the walnuts, then form into small balls. Do not make them too big because they will rise a little.
Bake on on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350F for 15 minutes, then remove and cool on cooling racks.
Meanwhile, create the icing which is standard icing – confectioners sugar with milk, plus the whiskey until lumps are removed. Some people use orange extract instead of the whiskey as an alternative to the alcohol.
Once fully cooled dip into the icing. Add more sugar if it is too thin.
It will take time for the icing to fully dry, so let them dry for about 1-2 days.
How to Store Italian Toto Cookies
So here’s the best part, you can store these in the freezer – even after dipping in the icing! This is a huge time saver if you’re trying to plan ahead.
Simply make sure the cookies are fully cooled and the icing is very hard. Then store in an air tight container with parchment paper between the layers.
Freeze for up to 3 months. (Yep – three months!).
Allow 24-48 hours to thaw in the fridge.
You can also freeze just the chocolate balls without the icing and then add the icing a few days before serving if you prefer.
These cookies are best served at room temperature.
How to Serve Chocolate Italian ToTo Cookies
You can serve Italian chocolate toto cookies on a platter or you can place them inside individual muffin/cupcake wrappers to make it easier for guests to pick them up and place on a dessert plate without having to use their fingers.
The cookie will not crumble as easily as the white powdered Italian snowball cookie, however guests may prefer to eat them using a fork which can break up the cookie.
If you want to offer your guest some Italian cookies specifically for dipping, make sure to also check out my almond biscotti recipe.
Let’s jump right into the recipe!
Chocolate ToTo Cookies
One of my favorite Italian holiday cookies! These easy chocolate cookies topped with Icing flavored with Whiskey (or rum) are the hit every year. These Italian dessert cookies are so delicious and easy to make, give them a try!
- 3 – 3 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar or 1 tsp stevia + 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/2 tsp ground clove
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 3-3 1/2 tbsp milk (or water)
- 1 tsp whiskey rum or even brandy can be used, or orange extract
In a large mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients (cocoa, clove, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and flour)
In a separate large bowl, using a mixer, blend butter, eggs, milk, vanilla until smooth
Add the liquids into the flour and mix without over mixing.
Gently fold in the chopped walnuts
Form into small to medium balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 15 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool on cooling racks
Using a mixer (handheld or other), blend the confectioners sugar with milk (or water) and whiskey until any lumps are removed for about 2 minutes on low to med. speed. You can also use some orange extract as a substitute for any alcohol.
When fully cooled, dip in the icing (instructions below). Add more sugar if you want it a thicker consistency.
Dip half of each cooled cookie ball into the icing and let dry on parchment or cooling rack
Store in an air tight container when icing is hard.
- Rum or brandy can be substituted for the whiskey, but the flavor will be different.
- You can substitute orange extract instead of any alcohol.
- Store in an air tight container
- Can be frozen for 3 months and then thawed before using
A very old friend, of my Mom’s (she is in her 90’s), sent me on a quest to find the Chocolate Italian Cookie that she once made, but lost the recipe. Well, I believe this is the recipe! I am baking them now, and I remember having these as a child. Thank you for posting! I am so glad that I found it, and these will be a great addition to my Christmas cookie collection!
Thank you so much for sharing Donna! I hope you and your dear friend enjoy them!
Can Gran Marnier , an orange liquor be used in the icing ?
Hi Lorie –
Yes, it can!
Thanks for asking! 🙂
I was wondering if you could explain what they taste like. I know you might use a fork so how hard are they? Taste similar to a brownie?
Great question! It is like a brownie but not as moist. Definitely not crispy or hard like a cookie, although the icing acts like a shell.
I hope that helps!
My recipes including this one is done with at least 4lb of flour do you ever make this in large portion if so could you print it 6
Hi Vera, I haven’t made this recipe in a large batch so I’m not sure what the different measurements would be. Sorry! If I ever do, I’ll add it to the recipe!