Aunt Adele’s Befana Cookies

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This recipe was shared with us by Andrea Berti, the 4th generation owner of Coltellerie Berti, whose beautiful handmade knives have been available from MATCH for over a decade.

“These cookies are traditionally made for the eve of Epiphany, when according to Italian folklore, the Befana — an old woman riding a broom — visits all children on the night of January 5th. Under cover of darkness, she fills their stockings with sweets and toys. For the naughty children she leaves only coal and garlic.

“Each year on Epiphany, my wife’s family, from the great grandparents to the great grandchildren, gather for lunch after the children joyfully open their stockings. At these celebrations everyone enjoys Aunt Adele’s Befana cookies.”

Ingredients (Approximately 24 cookies)

  • 1¼ cups flour (300g)
  • ½ cup sugar (100g)
  • ⅔ cup melted butter (150g)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 egg yolks (plus one separate yolk for brushing)
  • 1 tablespoon Marsala wine or dark rum
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Sugar sprinkles for decoration


  1. In a large bowl beat the yolks and sugar until foamy.
  2. Add the flour and melted, cooled butter. Mix until there are no lumps.
  3. Add the Marsala (or rum), orange zest, honey, and baking powder. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for two hours.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to approx. ⅓ inch (1cm) thickness.
  6. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place them onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Brush the tops with egg yolk and decorate with sprinkles. Bake at 350° for 10-15 min until golden brown, but not too dark.

Buon appetito!