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Twenty years ago this little book appeared celebrating the cookie recipes of Sweet Maria’s Bakery in Waterbury, Connecticut. If you drive in the Northeast, you want to avoid Interstate 95, because it is a parking lot. So, many of us have discovered I-84 instead, darting through New York and Connecticut up the the Mass Pike.

So many of us have discovered I-84 that now it, too, is a parking lot and the slowest part of it is Waterbury. I finally give up one afternoon and decided to chill of coffee and cookies. I found Sweet Maria’s. And now I know why for 30 odd years it has been a Connecticut bakery institution.

There are many dessert treats at the bakery but the cookies are prominent in the reputation of Maria Bruscino Sanchez. This book from 1997 puts her cookies on display. It captures perfectly the array of treats you’d expect from an Italian-American bakery. A battery of cookies, simple in ingredients and technique, perfectly accented with the spices and flavors that you associate with Italian cookies. And with Italian Christmas cookies.

Here's a Christmas recipe for you, her Chocolate Clove Drops with Chocolate Clove Frosting:

Chocolate Clove Drops

Yield: 50 cookies


  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening, melted, then cooled


Preheat oven to 3 50°F.

In a large stainless-steel bowl, with a wooden spoon, mix together 2 cups of the flour, the baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In an electric mixer or with a wire whisk, beat eggs and sugar. Add milk and melted shortening. Mix well.

Pour egg mixture into the well and begin to mix with a wooden spoon.

With a wooden spoon, mix in the remaining   cup flour. This will give you a slightly sticky dough. Drop from a teaspoon onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove cookie sheet from the oven.

Using a metal spatula, remove cookies from the baking sheet onto wire cooling racks. Cool, then frost with Chocolate Clove Frosting (see following recipe). Let frosting dry for a few hours before serving. Store frosted cookies in an airtight container. Freeze unfrosted cookies in plastic freezer bags.

Chocolate Clove Frosting

Yield: enough for 50 cookies


  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup cocoa


With an electric mixer, mix all ingredients until smooth.

Using a metal spatula or butter knife, frost the tops of the cookies. If the frosting is too stiff to spread, add a few drops of water to it and dip your butter knife or spatula in water before spreading.

If you have visited Italian bakeries in your past, you’ll find many old friends here. If you are new to Italian cookies, you are about to have some wonderful adventure. All styles are offered to you:

  • Drop Cookies
  • Molded and Rolled
  • Rolled and Filled
  • Biscotti
  • Taralle and Biscuits
  • Pizzelles

There is one header note here that made me smile, smile widely. There is a Cinnamon “S” Cookie that Maria says is her favorite breakfast cookie. Ah, a breakfast cookie. My soulmate!

These are easy recipes, simple to make, full of enjoyment. And ready for your kitchen. And your tummy. Any time of day.