Susumelle – spiced Calabrian biscuits

These Calabrian biscuits were traditionally baked for Christmas, although today you'll find them year-round in bakeries across the region. The hard biscuits are flavoured with honey, cinnamon and cocoa, before being coated with melted chocolate.

First published in 2019

A recipe that’s synonymous with the cold season in Calabria, susumelle – also known as pitte di San Martino – are dry, cinnamon-scented biscuits half-coated in chocolate. They are often prepared around the Christmas holidays, and served alongside many other delights – including the pitta ‘mpigliata – as part of a larger festive spread.

The recipe doesn’t include any eggs or fat, so the biscuits are on the hard side, also thanks to the hefty dose of honey in the dough. This said, their dryness ensures that they are long-lasting, and the chocolate covering makes them extremely moreish. Just make sure you dip them into some form of liquid – like coffee, tea or sweet wine – as you would, say, Tuscan cantuccini, to soften them a little before taking a bite.





  • 200g of runny honey, use a variety with a mild flavour
  • 50ml of water
  • 500g of plain flour, sifted
  • 200g of caster sugar
  • 10g of cocoa powder, dark
  • 8g of ground cinnamon
  • 16g of baking powder
  • 60g of whole milk
  • 200g of dark chocolate, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment and set aside
Place the honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and baking powder. Add the milk, followed by the hot honey and water mixture. Stir and knead until it all comes together into a soft, even dough
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and bring together into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 6–7mm thickness. Cut out the susumelle with an oval biscuit cutter, or with a sharp paring knife – they should be about 9cm long and 5cm wide (I used a glass to draw a circle to use as a guide, then created my ovals based on it). Gently transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheets. Knead any leftover dough back together, roll it out again, and repeat the process until you have used all the dough
Bake the susumelle for 12–15 minutes, or until brown and crisp. Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely
As a final step, melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Dip the top of each susumelle into the melted chocolate to coat the entire surface, then place them back on the cooling rack. Leave them to cool once more. Serve as soon as the chocolate has solidified – you can store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks if not eating immediately

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