Abbracci, which translates into Hugs in Italian, are classic Italian butter cookies, crumbly and delicious, where the white half cookie reaches out to the other half, the dark cookie, in a harmonious embrace. In Italy, they are mostly enjoyed at breakfast, dipped in cappuccino or tea, but you can enjoy them anytime!
Today I am sharing my contribution to The Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange. With several other bloggers, we are bringing you gorgeous cookie recipes for the holiday season.
[Post updated in January 2021]
I was excited to see so many bloggers join in on the fun and share their incredible cookie creations! Indeed, I was pondering which cookie recipe to share, and I think I found the right one, in these Abbracci biscotti, Italian Hugs Cookies.
Truly, I've never done any Christmas baking marathons, not when I was in Italy, not here in Canada. I am a consistent home baker, that is, you can find me in the kitchen making something almost every day. I like to make homemade bread, pizza dough, pasta dough, often; cakes, pies, and tarts for those special times; furthermore muffins, scones, loaf cakes for our breakfast, and cookies for the cookie jar sitting on our counter.
The cookies I chose for this cookie exchange are famous Italian cookies called Abbracci, which translates into hugs, and what a better name to describe a cookie to be exchanged at this particular time of the year, that is supposed to be filled with joy, love, and hugs, but that can be a time of trial for so many.
So today, I am sending out virtual hugs in the shape of cookies, hoping to brighten someone's day!
My mom's recipe notebook
As a matter of fact, I am sure everybody in Italy knows these particular cookies, where half of the white dough hugs the dark, the cocoa half. They are a replica of a store-bought cookie, made by a famous Italian brand. They are delicious, and the recipe I am sharing with you today comes from my mom's recipe notebook, handwritten in Italian on pages that have become yellowish and stained over the years. You see the notebook in the pictures, I am so happy it is in my hands, now!
In the end, the Abbracci, Italian Hugs Cookies, are quite easy to make, they only require a bit of your time, and a few steps to follow. My mom's recipe calls for 00 flour (or all-purpose), but I wanted to give an healthier spin substituting half the amount of the all-purpose with white whole wheat flour. One of the disadvantages is that it makes the dough a little harder to pipe. TIP: If you see that the dough is too hard to pipe (especially the cocoa one), just roll both doughs into medium/thick ropes, cut the ropes about 2 inches then overlap the cocoa dough onto the white dough to make a full circle.
These Abbracci cookies look so pretty, and so very close to the store-bought version. I was so happy with the result!
Can't you just feel the hug energy coming from these beautiful cookies? I made them with that energy in mind. I think they are like yin and yang, a perfect balance of color, texture, and taste!
These Abbracci, Italian Hug Cookies are perfect for dunking and are actually considered breakfast cookies in the Italian tradition. I love the way the cookie absorbs the liquid and yet it stays moist and intact. The flavor of the vanilla half is amazing and the cocoa equally delicious, and when the two meet it is as special as a hug and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The texture is light and crumbly and when it hits your tongue those little crumbs just melt and that vanilla/cocoa combo really plays with your taste buds.
It is Christmas and there is no better gift than sharing a hug, add a sweet delicious treat and I believe that we have a great gift for this festive season. Homemade gifts are special, the time that has taken to prepare them, the passion infused in them, and the joy on people's faces after they have enjoyed them is priceless.
How about this year we leave Santa a little Italian tradition and have a cappuccino and some Abbracci Cookies for him? I think he will love that!
Happy Holidays, Buone Feste, from us, here, at Sugarlovespices!
Make sure to check out all the cookies made for this year’s Sweetest Season Virtual Cookie Exchange!
And if you’d like to join us in giving back this season, please consider making a donation to our Sweetest Season fundraising page!
- 500 g (3 cups) flour type 00 or all-purpose (I used 220 g all-purpose + 230 g white whole wheat)
- pinch of salt
- 8 g (1 ½ tsp) baking powder
- 200 g (1 cup packed) raw cane sugar
- 200 g (⅞ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, organic, free-range
- 50 g (2 heaping Tbsp) honey
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 100 g (scant 7 Tbsp) whipping cream (heavy cream) + 2 tablespoon for the cocoa dough
- 50 g (½ cup) cocoa
- Line two large baking sheets with a silicone mat, or parchment paper.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
- In a medium bowl mix the flour, salt, baking powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, work the butter with the sugar until creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed, then the honey, vanilla, whipping cream.
- Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low until well combined.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and using a scale, or by eye, divide the dough into two equal parts.
- Put one half back in the bowl of the stand mixer, add the cocoa and the 2 tablespoon of whipping cream and mix well until combined.
- Now that you have the two colored cookie doughs, put them in two piping bags, snip the end about ½ inch (1.5 cm) and start by piping half-circles of white dough on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space in between, taking into account the full size of the cookie, which is about 2/2.5 inches (⅚ cm).
- Complete the circle of each cookie by piping the dark half overlapping both sides of the white dough, repeating this process until all dough is used. Since the cocoa dough is a little harder than the white to pipe, you can roll a rope of the cocoa dough (about 2 inches) and overlap on the white dough.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until the white dough is lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven, let cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Stored in an airtight container, they last for a week.
If you're using, like me, half all-purpose and half white whole wheat flour, reduce the total amount to 450 g.
You can successfully halve the recipe.
If you see that the dough is too hard to pipe (especially the cocoa one), just roll both doughs into medium/thick ropes, cut the ropes about 2 inches then overlap the cocoa dough onto the white dough to make a full circle.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Breakfast/Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.