Home » Tuscan Christmas Cookies: I Cavallucci

Cavallucci cookies (sometimes referred to as Cavallucci di Siena) are an ancient Tuscan cookie. The name (“little horses”) probably derives from the fact that they were offered to passers-by and pilgrims, who were probably often on horseback, by the countryside taverns. They were already known at the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent (15th century) by the name Biriquocoli.


Traditionally, in many homes, they were the only sweets that could be eaten before Christmas day. Over the years, some of the ingredients have changed, but the basic recipe gives this cookie a very long shelf life.

Enjoy them with a glass of Tuscan Vin santo!


  • 500 g flour plus more for dusting
  • 300 g sugar
  • 100 g water
  • 50 g honey
  • 70 g candied orange peel
  • 80 g candied citron peel
  • 150 g chopped walnuts
  • 10 g finely chopped anise seed
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of white pepper
  • pinch of baker’s ammonia


“Cavallucci” by judywitts is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients, nuts, and candied fruit. Make a syrup in a saucepan with the water and sugar (it will become transparent). Remove from heat and add the honey. Pour into the bowl with dry ingredients and mix well with the help of a wooden spoon.

Flour a work surface and transfer the mixture. Shape into balls with floured hands pressing the ends slightly. They should all be the same thickness and size for even baking.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet with the floured cookies evenly spaced. Bake at 180° for 10 to 15 minutes. The cavallucci should be light in color and soft.

This recipe is courtesy of the Hotel La Fonte del Cerro in Saturnia (GR).