Horsemen's CookiesClick to Play

Horsemen's Cookies


Mary Ann Esposito


These cookies called cavallucci were originally imprinted with the image of a horse and were named for the cavallari or the horsemen who drove two-wheeled carts and often stopped at osterie (inns) along the way to quench their thirst.

There are many versions of the dough, which has been altered over the years; some are flavored with cloves, cinnamon, candied fruits, and nuts.

According to tradition everyone in Siena eats two cavallucci and one piece of panforte at Christmastime.


1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
Confectioner's sugar to dust


Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in all the remaining ingredients except the flour. Stir in the flour. Allow the mixture to cool for 20 minutes. The dough will be very heavy and it is best to chill it for several hours for easier handling.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and cut it into quarters. Roll each piece into an 18-inch rope and cut 2-inch pieces with a knife. Make a thumb print in each piece and place them 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. They will be hard when removed from the oven but will soften as they cool.

item recipe is featured in Episode 1323 of Season 13.

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