Occhi di Bue (Chocolate-Filled Italian Sandwich Cookies)

May 13, 2020 Updated: May 13, 2020

Occhi di bue, literally named “bull’s eyes” for their generous, round shape, are enormous sandwich cookies, so big you need both hands to hold them. They are a reassuring constant in any pastry shop or café in Italy, winking from the bakery counter with their hearts of jam or chocolate. 

Whenever my mum and I visited my grandfather Remigio in San Gimignano, a hill town southwest of Florence, we would stop at our favorite pastry shop for a cappuccino and a few chats with the locals, and I was allowed to choose something sweet from the counter. Whether still-warm rice pudding tartlets or occhi di bue, a treat made with pasta frolla was always a must.

You can fill these cookies with your favorite jam—a tart apricot jam is very common—or a thick, glossy chocolate ganache.

Makes 10 (3-inch) sandwich cookies

  • 1 batch pasta frolla, rested for at least a few hours, or overnight
  • 3 1/2 ounces 70 percent dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Remove the pasta frolla from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes. This will make it easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a floured surface, roll out the pasta frolla with a rolling pin into a 1/4-inch-thick round.

Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut round cookies out of the dough. Use a smaller cookie cutter (round, or in whatever shape you prefer) to cut out holes in the centers of half of the cookies.

Knead any leftover dough scraps together, roll it out again, and cut out more cookies. At the end, you should have 10 whole cookies and 10 cookies with holes in the center.

Arrange the cookies on the baking sheet and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack.

In the meantime, prepare the chocolate ganache filling.

Collect the finely chopped dark chocolate and butter in a bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Stir slowly with a whisk until the chocolate has completely melted and has become thick and glossy. Let it cool slightly.

Spread a spoonful of ganache on each whole cookie, and top with a holed cookie to make a sandwich.