Peseta Bars Italian Cookies Recipe

A Christmas Italian cookie favorite from childhood

Prep time: Approximately 2 hrs.
Cook time: 14 min. per batch
Temp: 450 degrees F
Yield: About 70 cookies

This is the best Italian cookie ever! * Scroll down for video.

Peseta Bars Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds of whole almonds (3) 6 oz. packages whole almonds & (1) 6 oz. package of sliced almonds.
  • 5 cups all purpose flour (preferably unbleached and sifted)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 hershey chocolate bars (Frozen 1.5 oz. standard size 6″x2.5″ ea. Unless you end up eating some of the chocolate while your grating it, then you may want to use 4 Hershey Bars. I recommend that you freeze these bars prior to use. It will help you when you have to grate the chocolate.)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Rind of 1 lemon and 1 large orange (grated)

See below for VERY detailed recipe instructions

peseta bar cookies


This is my grandmothers version of Biscotti. A Biscotti variation. My very favorite Christmas cookie!

You will need (3) large bowls….

You need to roast the almonds. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Take the whole Almonds and spread them out on a cookie sheet or large baking pan, be sure to spread them out in one layer. Put them in the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes. Stir the almonds or turn them over if you can and put them back in the oven for another 4 minutes. (A Spatula is useful for flipping the nuts) Here is a tip on roasting nuts from “The Joy of Cooking” – “Turn nuts frequently to avoid scorching. Do not over toast as nuts tend to darken and become crisper as they cool.” You should be able to fit all 18 oz. of whole Almonds on one large cookie sheet in one layer. Roast these as listed above.

Now you will want to roast the Sliced Almonds in the same manor as listed above, however these roast a lot faster so roast them for 2 min. then flipped them and roast for another 2 minutes. Take both the Whole and Sliced roasted almonds and put them aside to cool.

While the almonds are cooling. Grate (3) frozen 1.5 oz. (standard size 6″x2.5″ ea.) chocolate bars and put this on a plate to use later. Then grate (1) whole orange and (1) whole lemon rinds. You just want to grate the skin off, this really adds a nice flavor! Important Note: When you grate the orange and lemon, be sure to not grate the white part of the rinds because the white part is bitter, just grate the yellow and orange stuff 🙂

Out of the 1-1/2 pounds of now roasted almonds, take out 3/4 cups of Almonds and chop them, then put them in a blender and blend until finely chopped, if you don’t have a blender, then just put the almonds in a large ziplock bag, seal it up and that smash the heck out of them with the flat side of a meat pounder. Smash these almost to a powder. Put this in (bowl #1).

(This portion of the recipe is good for relieving any stress you may be having. 😉 You will need smash the rest of the Almonds in the same manor as listed about (ziplock and meat pounder), these you want to smash, but not as much. You want to smash them into 1/8″ pieces and smaller. When you have finished chopping all the almonds, mix them well in (bowl #1) with the finely chopped almonds.

In (bowl #2) add the following:
5 Large Eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 large orange
Mix all the ingredient listed above in a large bowl with an electric beater at low speed, just enough to mix the ingredients. OK, set this bowl aside..

In (bowl #3) and add the following: (Note: Bowl #3 should be your largest bowl)

  • 5 cups flour (keep an extra 1/2 cup or so of flour handy for later, just in case the batter turns out to be to sticky to work with)
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • Mix Well

Slowly mix (bowl #2) into (bowl #3).
Mix with a fork as your pouring the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. This will be a very full bowl and you will have a lot of mixing to do, this will also be a VERY thick batter that you will have to work with a lot until you get a thick almost solid dough ball. You’ll start mixing with a fork or large spoon but will quickly have to change to just mixing with your hands. (If the batter gets to sticky to work with, just add some flour, not a lot, just sprinkle extra flour as needed to dry up the batter enough to make it easier to work with.)

Now that you have (bowl #2) and (bowl #3) mixed together in (1) large bowl it’s time to add the chocolate and almonds. – Add (bowl #1) and the grated chocolate into this bowl. Mix all ingredients well, it will take some muscle and strong hands (Grandmom must have been a strong woman!, this is work!!!). Mix well until all the chocolate and almonds are spread out well throughout all of the dough, this will really take some muscle, (you might even break a sweat!) You will have to work with this for at least 5 to 10 minutes until it’s all blended together well. You should end up with one really large heavy dough ball (really, you could break a window with this thing! ;). If the batter gets sticky which happens sometimes depending on the temperature of the flour and humidity in your kitchen, just add a little flour to your hands while working with the batter. OK – So you will want to work with this until you have the big ball mentioned above.

You might need a little rest at this point, but don’t rest too long, we still have a lot of work to do. This Italian cookie making is serious stuff!!! Not for the weak.

Now is a good time to pre-heat your oven to 450 degree F.

Now that you have the batter done it’s time to make it into bars. Get some wax paper and spread out a little bit of flour on it. Spoon out the batter (which will be very thick) onto the wax paper and create a bar that is approximately 3″ wide, 12″ long and 1/2″ high. Get some more flour on your hands and firmly press the batter with your fingers to form the bars. This recipe should make approximately (4) 3″ wide, 12″ long and 1/2″ high bars. Now that your bars are made you will need to cut out the cookies.

OK, you should now have (3) 3″wide x 12″ long x 1/2″ high bars ready for cutting. Cut pieces on a 30 degree angle, pieces should be approximately 3/4″ to 1″ wide.

You should end up with cookies that are about 3″ long x 3/4″ to 1″ wide x 1/2″ high. Put cookies on a greased cookie sheet (preferably double wall cookie sheet to prevent burning), space the cookies at least 1/2″ apart. Cook for 10 minutes at 450 degrees f (pre-heated). After you cooked the Peseta Bars for 10 minutes take them out and let them cool on a cookies rack for about 5 minutes. Put them back on the cookie sheet, this time with them flipped over and place them on their sides if you can, if not just put them back on however you feel like. Bake for another 8 – 12 minutes and then take them out and let them cool on the cookie rack again. On the second baking you need to keep a close eye on the progress and make sure they are not getting overcooked. I have made these for the past 30 years and the cooking times have varied. Note: When they are done they are quite hot and the do keep cooking a little bit when cooling on the rack. This recipe makes about 50 cookies, so you will need to have two cookie sheets which will be full. As I mentioned above, cooking times may vary between different ovens. You may have to cook the bars a couple minutes more or less to get them just right. These Peseta Bars should have a little crunch to them but not to much, they should have a nice crumbly texture to them. They keep cooking a little bit while they are cooling.

Here you can see two full cookie sheets. This is what you should end up with in the oven if you did everything right 🙂


Now your ready to add a little Cookie Glaze. Mix 4 cups powdered sugar and start with 1/4 cup milk in bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk as needed to make pourable glaze. Also add a 1/4 tsp. of Vanilla. Mix this well and it should have a consistency that will allow it to be poured off a spoon onto the cookies. While the cookies are cooling on the cookie rack, go-ahead and just drip glaze onto cookies, be creative, make it pretty.

Great Job! You did it! Your now an Italian Grandmother! The absolute best way to eat these wonderful cookies you just made is to sit down with a nice cup of Espresso and enjoy your hard work!!!! Auh, just wonderful!

That’s it! You’re done….. Easy as Pie!


Peseta Bar Recipe Video


Peseta Bar Photo Gallery

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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4 thoughts on “Peseta Bars Italian Cookies Recipe”

  1. You are lucky to have these recipes passed on to the public. Pesetas – I never knew what they were called. My father loved them and my mother bought in Italian bakeries; I loved them too. Thought about them all these years (Dad gone 22yrs now) and never knew the recipe until I saw this site. Thank you. Nice memories you have.


    1. Yes, this is my favorite Italian Christmas cookie ever. It is my favorite because the taste and texture of this amazing cookie and the memories that are tied with taste and smell. Strong and wonderful memories! You must dive in a make these. They are laborious but so worth the effort.


  2. Anthony, am I missing something with the sliced almonds. Do they get smashed with the remainder of the whole almonds in the zip lock with the meat pounder? They sound wonderful. But like any good Italian recipe very labor intensive.


    1. Yes, they get smashed up with the other almonds. I like the sliced almonds because they roast a bit nicer than the whole almonds and I have found add a bit more flavor to these amazing cookies!


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