Spelt flour Occhi di Bue Cookies are delicious Italian shortbread cookies. They consist of two overlapping round biscuits with a filling in the middle, of which the upper one has a smaller circle cut out so the filling is visible, and that resembles an ox's eye, hence the name. They are very popular and beloved, you can find them in any Italian bakery and pastry shop. Here I made a variation to the pasta frolla using spelt flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, which give a golden color and a delightful fragrant crumb.
Song of the day: This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) - Natalie Cole.
Do you have a favorite dessert? One that makes you feel good inside, puts a smile on your face just thinking about it, takes you back in time, and is able to transform a bad day into a good day?
My favorite sweet treats
Truly, I don't have many, because although I have a "sweet tooth", there are only a few desserts that I care for and make me happy. I don't go crazy for cakes with frostings, lots of cream and layers; or cupcakes; or squares and cheesecakes; or anything that is overly sweet. But I love all kinds of rustic and "homey" desserts. A pie or a tart, a crostata or a galette, a loaf, a crumble, or a simple torta. And biscotti di pasta frolla, any kind of shortbread biscuits or cookies... oh how much I like them! The buttery, crumbly and fragrant pasta frolla, short pastry, wins my heart over every time.
Among my favorite, Occhi di Bue cookies are my taste of home, fond memories of good time past, the flavor of my childhood.
Ox's Eyes "Occhi di Bue" Cookies
Occhi di Bue (okki dee booai (?)) means “ox’s eyes”, an amusing name for a cookie, but nevertheless appropriate since they resemble the animal’s large, round eyes. They consist of two overlapping round biscuits, of which the upper one has a smaller circle cut out so the filling is visible, and that reminds an ox's eye.
Traditionally, Occhi di bue can be found either round with a smooth edge, or round with scalloped edges. They can be bite-sized small, or as large as the palm of your hand.
Spelt flour Occhi di Bue
For one thing, you can see it immediately from the color of these cookies, that the short pastry of these Occhi di Bue cookies has something different. The color is given by the use of spelt flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. I usually scent my batch of pasta frolla with grated lemon zest, which adds a bright flavor to the dough, but this time I added cinnamon, which compliments well the nuttiness of the spelt flour.
Of course, you can choose to fill the cookies with any jam you like, or Nutella, or any other spread. I opted for the classic combination:
- Occhi di Bue filled with apricot jam with a side dipped in melted dark chocolate;
- Occhi di Bue filled with a chocolate hazelnut spread.
That golden color
As a matter of fact, the shortcrust pastry made with spelt flour gives these cookies a golden color and a particular, nutty taste that pairs well with the chocolate, as well as with the sweet and velvety taste of the apricot jam.
So pretty, fragrant, crumbly, and light, they look like they come straight from an Italian pasticceria.
While you might find it odd, I assure you, since I've had them, they are amazing at breakfast with a cup of coffee. Also great as a snack (merenda) for kids and grown-ups, and just lovely for a tea party with friends.
In the end, I hope you give these Italian cookies a try. It might be the start of an everlasting love...
Spelt flour Occhi di Bue Cookies are delicious Italian shortbread cookies. They consist of two overlapping round biscuits with a filling in the middle, of which the upper one has a smaller circle cut out so the filling is visible, and that resembles an ox’s eye, hence the name. They are very popular and beloved, you can find them in any Italian bakery and pastry shop. Here I made a variation to the pasta frolla using spelt flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, which give a golden color and a delightful fragrant crumb.
- 200 g organic spelt flour
- 80 g brown sugar (or cane sugar)
- 80 g unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg, organic, free-range
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch of baking soda
- apricot jam, for the filling
- 80-100 g dark chocolate, melted, to dip one side of the cookies
- chocolate spread, for the filling
- icing (powdered sugar), for the topping
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the sugar and butter and evenly mix.
- Add the egg and mix.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until it just comes together.
- Place it on a work surface, shape it into a ball, then press it down to flatten. Wrap it in plastic and set it in the fridge to rest for two hours.
- After that time, unwrap the dough, lightly flour both sides and roll it between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of half a cm and cut out as many shapes as you can with a round cutter (smooth or with scalloped edges) 2.5 inches diameter, re-rolling the pastry leftovers to make more. Cut half of them in the middle with a smaller round cutter (1-inch) to make the upper circle.
- Once the shapes are cut, with the help of an offset spatula, lift the shapes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and set in the fridge to chill for 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Adjust the rack to the center position.
- Bake one baking sheet at a time until the cookies turn a light golden color at the edges, about 8-10 minutes (watch them carefully).
- Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Occhi di Bue with apricot jam and chocolate:
- Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the apricot jam onto a solid cookie base and spread a little toward the edges. Top with the cut-out cookie top, making sure not to press down too hard (the filling should not ooze out the sides or center of the cookie).
- Melt the dark chocolate on a bain-marie. Dip half of the sandwich cookie in the melted chocolate. Set on a baking sheet to cool.
Occhi di Bue with chocolate filling:
- Sprinkle some of the cut-out cookie tops with powdered sugar and set aside.
- Spoon a heaping teaspoon of the chocolate spread onto a solid cookie base and spread a little toward the edges. Top with the cut-out cookie top, making sure not to press down too hard (the filling should not ooze out the sides or center of the cookie).
Occhi di Bue cookies keep in a tin box, or airtight container, for a week at most, losing a bit of their crunch as days pass.
The prep time includes the resting time in the fridge.
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: cookies, Italian, spelt flour, apricot jam, chocolate spread, brown sugar, tea time, dessert, occhi di bue