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
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.
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 10-12 cookies 1x
- 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.
- Prep Time: 2 hour 50 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: cookies, Italian, spelt flour, apricot jam, chocolate spread, brown sugar, tea time, dessert, occhi di bue
I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.
Gloria | Homemade & Yummy says
I have only used spelt flour once. These cookies look fantastic. Just what I need with my afternoon latte.
Spelt flour is such an awesome flour! I am sure you would love these cookies. I wish I had one in front of me, as I am typing away... 🙂
Elaine Benoit says
I love spelt flour! I use it all the time when I'm baking! What brand do you use? I use One Degree but am always curious about what other's use. These cookies look so delicious and perfect. I'm just put them on my must make list! (also, congrats on MV)
Thank you, Elaine, we finally made it to MV!! 🙂 I have never heard of that brand! I use different brands according to where I am. In Italy I use mostly Molino Rossetto, here I buy a local organic spelt flour from Gold Forest Grain, or Bob's Red Mill, and lately Anita's organic White Spelt. Hope you make the cookies and love them as much as we do!
Kylie | Midwest Foodie says
These cookies are so beautiful - and your pictures are making my mouth water!! Can't wait to try these!!
Thank you! They are possibly my favorite cookies ever 🙂 .
I have never cooked with spelt flour, but your cookies look addicting and delicious. They would be perfect for afternoon tea!
Thanks so much! They go so well with tea or coffee 😉 !
Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen says
I've never tried baking with spelt flour before - it sounds like a great ingredient! These cookies are so adorable - perfect to satisfy my sweet tooth!
Thank you! You can easily switch white spelt flour for all purpose flour. You are going to love it and it is so much better.
Haven't come across this kind of biscuits in a while. Reminds me of those "paste" you get in any panetteria <3 Such simple flavours, yet such genuine flavours.
Yes, in Rome in every panetteria, forno, or pasticceria you can find these cookies together with other "paste". I love them ????. Thank you!
Oh I've been wanting to try baking with spelt flour! But haven't gotten around to it...I think these cookies would be a great first recipe. Love the idea of dipping some of them in chocolate.
I have so many spelt flour recipes on the blog, muffins, scones, cookies, cakes and bread. Whenever you want to start...????. Thanks!
Never tried cookies with spelt flour before. These look fantastic. Thank you for the detailed recipe. I would love to try it soon!
Hope you try. They are amazing. Orm oone of the other spelt flour recipes we have on the blog. Thank you!
These cookies are so beautiful, I love the addition of the chocolate on the side. And this is an interesting way to use spelt flour too, I'll have to try these out!
Hope you try them! They ar great italian cookies and the use of spelt flour make them a little more nutritious. Thanks!
Analida Braeger says
I haven't heard spelt flour before , but these look so delicious , I almost thought you were spreading nutella on them !
Spelt is an ancient grain and the flour is considered so much better than the refined all purpose. Some cookies have a chocolate spread and some have jam. Both delicious!
I love that you use spelt flour for these! I'm part of a grain share CSA where we get a new "rare" (not really rare, but just less commonly used!) grain ground as flour, as whole berries, etc. Last month was einkorn, this month is sorghum, and next month will be spelt -- I'm saving this recipe to make with my spelt four!
Spelt flour is amazing in baked goods! Hope you try it. I make bread, cakes, muffins, scones, cookies with it. Love it!
Kelly Neil says
Oh wow! I absolutely love spelt flour and mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon it sounds amazing!! I also can't decide whether I like which version of the pretty little cookies I like better so I'll make both. YUM!
Thank you, Kelly! I love spelt flour too so much! The pairing is awesome, I cannot wait to make them again|
They look so good.
I made the daughter but it turned very crumbly and I couldn’t form into a ball. I still wrapped and put in refrigerator just now. Maybe it will hold. Any idea?
Hi! If it was very crumbly it might have needed some moisture. Is it very dry where you live? You could have added a few drops of water just to make the dough come together. The fridge will help but you still need to be able to roll it out. Hope you can make it, they are so good!