Would you like an almond-based, dense, nutty, honey-flavored, lightly spiced, dark chocolate coated cookie? If you said yes, these traditional Italian Mostaccioli di Mamma cookies are a must for your Christmas holiday cookie platter.
Mostaccioli are Christmas cookies which are extremely popular in southern Italy, particularly among Neapolitans. As is usually the case with regional Italian cooking, you will find endless variations. Today, I would like to share my version which I have called Mostaccioli di Mamma.
The whole process of making these cookies begins by grinding about one pound of almonds, skin on and not roasted. The texture we are looking for is coarsely ground. This will provide a cookie where fragments of almonds are visible.
We then need to incorporate these ground almonds with the dry ingredients which have been sifted together.
As far as the liquid ingredients are concerned, it is simply a question of slowly whipping up the ingredients together, one by one in your stand mixer. The addition of a pound of honey confirms that these are definitely a chocolaty honey cookie.
Here comes the fun part!
With the help of a large serving wooden spoon, transfer some dough on a well floured wooden board and roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. This is a soft dough to work with but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier. If you are having a hard time, you can refrigerate the dough for 10-15 minutes. The dough will then be easier to roll as it gets a lot firmer.
These Mostaccioli di Mamma are definitively not your typical cookie. To begin with, they have a very distinct rhombus shape, so we are going to use a cookie cutter to guide us in order for the cookies to have the same shape.
Once they have baked and cooled, it is time for the icing.
Part of what makes these mostaccioli so irresistible is the combination of the dark chocolate coating, the spices and the honey. Make sure to use a high-quality chocolate as this will make a big difference in the overall quality of the cookie.
ORIGINS OF THE RECIPE FOR Mostaccioli di Mamma:
I was extremely privileged to be raised in a family where Italian traditions, especially food traditions, were extremely important. As such, there was such a frenzy surrounding any holiday period… with Easter it was all about the fiadone and rice ricotta cakes; on Saint Joseph Day we had this special pasta and of course these Zeppole di San Giuseppe; and then, there was Christmas 🙂 (just click on the the word Christmas and you will be directed to the recipe index of Christmas recipes on this site).
Both my parents originated from the South of Italy. My mom’s birthplace was Molinare (Benevento) and my dad was from Ripabottoni (Campobasso) and so, you can well imagine all the wonderful food I grew up with. Naturally I had my favorites, which I will continue to document and share with all of you.
This recipe for Mostaccioli di Mamma would always be made by my mom at Christmas time. I have seen (and tried) many variations of Mostaccioli. To this day, this is still one of my favorite cookies.
Over the years, I have made a few really minor changes to the recipe. I increased both the amount of flour and orange juice which resulted in a softer textured cookie.
As far as the icing is concerned, my mom preferred a very simple chocolate glaze. I have taken to liberty to coat the entire mostaccioli cookie with dark chocolate.
I am quite confident that you would enjoy this traditional Italian Mostaccioli di Mamma cookies with a nice cup of coffee… or espresso, or tea, or milk, or just about any beverage!!!
I truly hope you enjoy making and eating this wonderful Southern Italian cookie.
Gotta go, the coffee is ready!
Mostaccioli di Mamma
- 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 oz unsweetened cocoa powder 2/3 cup (I prefer to use Rodelle)
- 1 pound coarsely ground almond 3 1/2 cups
- 6 eggs room temperature
- 1 pound honey 1 1/3 cups, slight warmed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest of 2 oranges
- juice of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Good quality chocolate for glazing. I prefer a bittersweet chocolate...at least 70%
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Position rack in the center.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients. (flour, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, and cocoa).
Add ground almonds and incorporate with the dry ingredients. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs for 2-3 minutes.
- Add honey. Continue to whisk until well thickened.
- Add sugar. Beat well.
- Add orange zest, juice and extract.
- Switch to paddle attachment. Add flour mixture until just combined. (Dough will be soft and sticky).
Working with dough in small batches, place on well-floured wooden board and roll out to 1/4 - 1/2" thick.
With a rhombus-shaped cutter or with a knife cut dough (I use a 2-inch cutter).
- Place on cookie sheets.
Continue until all the dough has been shaped. Leftover dough trimmings can be re-rolled.
Bake at 350° F for about 15-18 minutes or until firm to touch.
- Let cool completely before glazing with chocolate.
If you find the dough too soft to handle, you can add a little bit more flour. Also, you can try refrigerating the dough-the honey will make the dough firm up a little bit.
For the chocolate glaze, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. With a pastry brush, coat the mostaccioli with chocolate.
Can be stored in an airtight container, in a cool place for weeks.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.
Thanks for dropping by,
Ciao for now!
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first published: December 21/14