christine wenger stories with a smile



My friend, Jen Gianetto Rowan, gave me this recipe from her great-grandmother, Mary Stella Azzarelli Savona. Nana Savona was born in Messina, Sicily, in 1901, and this recipe was one of her family recipes brought over when she immigrated. Unfortunately Jen didn’t know the year she came to America, but knows that she was young. For years, Nana Savona worked as the cook for one of the fraternities at SUNY Oswego. Nana was supposed to be married through an arranged match, but had fallen in love with Jen’s great-grandfather and asked her parents to let her marry him instead. They agreed!

8 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 to 5 jiggers of whiskey (any whiskey will do but Jen highly recommends springing for Jack Daniels)
2 cups milk
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, salt, powder and soda together in a 6 quart bowl or soup pan.
  3. Add sugar, cocoa, spices.
  4. Add shortening and liquids
  5. Mix by hand (which means stick your hand in there and work it all together).  The dough will be extremely sticky, especially if you've been "generous" with the whiskey.  Add more milk a little at a time if the dough seems too dry.
  6. Add nuts if desired, mix in.
  7. Form into little balls, or, to make life easier, use a cookie scoop.
  8. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove to paper towels and frost while warm.


Chocolate Glaze Frosting


  • 1 box confectioner's sugar
  • cocoa powder

Method: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth.  It will need to be rather thick, but will still drizzle from a spoon, or the warm cookies will further thin the glaze and it will all run off the cookies.