Rose del Deserto Recipe

Eating healthy is an extra challenge during the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult with Paola’s improved version of the classic Mediterranean diet, which she aptly calls The Mamma Mia! Diet. And she is delighted to share this traditional Italian holiday cookie recipe below. Enjoy the recipe with warm wishes for the holiday season ahead.

Kids need between-meal pick-me-ups. Why not make this Italian variation of yummy chocolate chip cookies? “Desert roses” are delicious, perfect for a tasty and healthy snack to enjoy with a glass of milk. Even adults love them with a nice cup of tea or, even better, with an Italian espresso or cappuccino. These cookies get their name from the rosette-shaped formations of ocher-colored minerals found in desert areas.

Rose del Deserto (Desert Roses)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 10 minutes
Yield: about 35-40 cookies

130 g (⅔ cup) granulated sugar
120 g (4.3 oz ) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
240 g (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
5 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
Pinch of salt
180 g (1 cup) chocolate chips
200 g (7 oz) approx., cornflakes (like Special K) or similar
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350 °F). Cream the butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Then mix the flour and the baking powder together in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and stir in the chocolate chips. Roll teaspoon-sized balls of dough in a bowl of cornflakes. Place the cookies, well-spaced (about 3-4 cm), on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar on top, just before serving.

Note: This recipe makes about 35-40 cookies. If the dough is too sticky, add one or two spoons of flour. You can substitute chocolate chips with other ingredients such as raisins, for an even healthier snack. Store in a airtight container. You can also store the baked cookies in the freezer; before serving, let them thaw at room temperature and then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.



Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn is an Italian pharmacist, researcher and food writer. Cooking, eating healthy food and staying active have always been her life-long passions. She has a cooking blog “Passion and Cooking,” and contributes to several international magazines. She has previously published in Italy Love is Eating, focusing on Italian culinary culture.

Paola Palestini is a biochemistry professor at the Medical School of the University Milano-Bicocca, Italy. Recently, Paola has been actively involved in the promotion of the principles of a healthy diet through conferences and in collaboration with several magazines. She is the author of seventy-six scientific articles published in international journals.

Learn more about The Mamma Mia! Diet at