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chocolate italian toto cookies recipe

One of my favorite Christmas dessert cookies are the Italian chocolate toto cookies.   They are different and unique and will be enjoyed by your guests at Christmas or whenever you choose to bake them.   

I first had these many years ago from my in-laws who are also Italian.   I’ve modified the recipe in a few minor ways to make them suit our tastes, and the fact that I also adjusted quantities for a smaller batch.   

Jump to Recipe

These 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.  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 and so that has been my defacto 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!

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.

Do you Have to Use Icing with Whiskey When Making Italian Toto Cookies?

There are a variety of Italian “toto” cookies out there.   I’ve only had them with icing, 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.    

Keep in mind, you can avoid the alcohol all together if that is a concern and just use the icing without it. I still think the icing helps give some pizzazz to the cookies, and of course it looks incredibly impressive too!

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. 

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!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 16 cookies


  • 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


  1. In a large mixing bowl mix the dry ingredients (cocoa, clove, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and flour)

  2. In a separate large bowl, using a mixer, blend butter, eggs, milk, vanilla until smooth

  3. Add the liquids into the flour and mix without over mixing.

  4. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts

  5. Form into small to medium balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 15 minutes

  6. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling racks

  7. 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.

  8. When fully cooled, dip in the icing (instructions below). Add more sugar if you want it a thicker consistency.

  9. Dip half of each cooled cookie ball into the icing and let dry on parchment or cooling rack

  10. Store in an air tight container when icing is hard.

Recipe Notes

  1. Rum or brandy can be substituted for the whiskey, but the flavor will be different. 
  2. You can substitute orange extract instead of any alcohol.
  3. Store in an air tight container
  4. Can be frozen for 3 months and then thawed before using
How to Make Italian Chocolate ToTo Cookies with Whiskey Icing