Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

This Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe is chock-full of finely ground almonds, flavored with both cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate and partially sweetened with honey. They’re spicy cookies with the aromatic essence of ground cloves and cinnamon. The zest of an orange and lemon with a touch of limoncello lends a lovely citrusy taste to these soft cake-like cookies which are then enveloped in more chocolate goodness.

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

The origin of this cookie is said to date back 300 hundred years before the birth of Christ and rooted deep in Italian history. Needless to say not all food historians seem to agree on this. However, the consensus is that the mostaccioli cookie has evolved tremendously throughout the years.

In the old country these cookies were made with Mosto or rather Wine Must as a sweetening agent because of its high glucose content, which is basically pressed grapes containing all components of this fruit. It was a time when sugar or even honey were not readily available and people made do with what they had on hand.

They were also made in different shapes and sizes with intricate patterns depicting historical animals or items such as baskets or even the palm. Some, also made with jewel like decorations and sold at auctions in order to raise money for charities.

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

It wasn’t until centuries later that this clove and cinnamon scented cookie gained in popularity and most families nowadays have their own unique way of making them. From sculpted cookies to biscotti like shapes to the more popular diamond shaped one that you see here today.

And while some contain no leavening agent yielding a harder cookie, much like my Zia would make, these are soft and almost cake like.

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

It bears mentioning that your working with a very soft dough so flour your work surface, rolling pin and hands when shaping and cutting the cookies.

I used a 2 inch diamond shaped cookie cutter to form them but you can just as easily cut them into diamond shapes using a knife.

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

I chose to dip half the batch of cookies in semi-sweet chocolate and the other half in white chocolate as this makes a lovely presentation when platted together on a large platter. Do keep in mind though to allow sufficient time for the chocolate to set before platting…trust me on this!

As I was taking photos of the cookies I noticed how quickly I was losing natural light, hence a few smudges. However, they were delicious smudges I assure you!

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe

This Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe is sure to bring a nostalgic feel to your family gathering! If you want to give them a go, do tag @marisasitaliankitchen on Instagram so I can see your creation!

Italian Mostaccioli Cookie Recipe
A traditional Italian cookie with ground almonds, sweetened with honey, scented with both orange and lemon zest, cloves, cinnamon and dipped in chocolate.
Recipe type: Cookie
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6½ dozen
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups almonds, very finely ground
  • ⅓ cup baking cocoa powder (I used dutch processed)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup honey
  • orange zest (from 1 large orange)
  • lemon zest (from 1 medium sized lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Limoncello (or substitute with the juice of one lemon)
  • 3 ounces coarsely grated semi-sweet or bitter sweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
  • vegetable oil for thinning the chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, finely ground almonds, cocoa powder, cloves, cinnamon, baking powder and salt then set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the eggs together.
  5. Mix in the sugar and honey, beating until very well combined.
  6. Stir in the orange and lemon zest, the vanilla extract and limoncello.
  7. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined.
  8. Stir in the grated chocolate.
  9. The dough will be very soft and pliable.
  10. Working with small portions of the dough at a time (about 1 heaping cupful) transfer to a well floured surface.
  11. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ⅓ of an inch thick.
  12. Use a 2 inch diamond cookie cutter to shape and cut out the cookies and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet while spacing them about 1 inch apart. (dipping the cookie cutter in flour before each use will tremendously help for easy release.)
  13. Re-rolled the scraps to shape and cut just 1 more time.
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. The cookies should still be slightly soft to the touch when ready.
  15. While one batch is baking in the oven continue rolling and cutting with the remaining dough.
  16. Make sure the cookies cool completely before dipping in chocolate.
  18. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave, using a microwave safe bowl on high for about 90 seconds stirring at 30 seconds interval.
  19. Thin the chocolate with a little bit of vegetable oil to loosen the consistency somewhat for easy dipping.
  20. Dip half a batch of the cookies into the melted semi-sweet chocolate and place on a cooling rack till the chocolate sets.
  21. Repeat by melting the white chocolate and coating the remaining cookies.
  22. Before the white chocolate sets, use a piping bag filled with dark melted chocolate to dot the tops then simply run a toothpick through the dots to create a pretty pattern.
  23. Allow for the chocolate to set completely before storing.



  1. Looks absolutely divine!!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Such memories of eating mostaccioli with my family! Mostly bought at country fairs, some werevgreat, some hard as a rock, but all, with that unmistakable clove, cinnamon, and cocoa flavor! These are so pretty, and I’m sure they taste fantastic!!

    • My childhood memories too were of the rock hard variety and when testing out this recipe my husband and I both agreed on two things….they had to be soft and with not too much cloves in them and then simply to switch them up a little I decided to coat half the batch with the white chocolate and create the dark chocolate swirls! We both agreed those were the best, but then again we’ve always had similar tastes…thank goodness! Thanks so much for dropping by!

  3. Those are absolutely gorgeous cookies, Marisa! And so perfect for the holidays!

  4. Oh my goodness those are beautiful! Too pretty to eat! (Not really)

  5. I have so many wonderful memories of my Mom making mostaccioli… it would not be Christmas without these cookies. This looks like a wonderful variation Marisa… with my freshly made batch of limoncello, I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing ♥

    • I’ve only ever made Limoncello once! Maybe it’s time to make more because I’ve just about used up most of mine testing out these cookies and not all of it went in the cookies😉 Thanks Maria!

  6. Yum! These look so pretty! Putting them on my baking list! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. Wow- what a cool and interesting history this cookie has! And it looks delicious.! I think I just found a new addition to my baking tray:)

    • Although this cookie goes way back it’s still very much enjoyed by both the older generation as well as the young and extremely popular during Christmas! Glad you like them and thanks so much!

  8. Wow, these cookies look so gorgeous, fancy and absolutely delicious!

  9. Hi Marisa, my mom made this cookie every xmas, always intimidated to try, your recipe looks easy to make, I was wondering how many cups come out of the ground almonds an can we use almond meal/powder instead

    Thank you

    • Hi Anna, it really is not any more difficult then doing any type of cut out cookie. Give yourself some unhurried time with a little bit of background music and enjoy 🙂 I haven’t ever tried them with almond meal so I can’t really say. However, I did grind my almonds very finely and I would say 1 cup of whole almonds yielded roughly 1 1/4 cup ground. If you do try them with almond meal feel free to come back and let me know how it goes! Thanks so much.

  10. I’ve never had these! … but then again, I’m not of Italian heritage. They look absolutely gorgeous with a blend of all the best flavours.

    • They’re mostly popular around Christmas time and most families have their own unique way of making them! For some it just would not be Christmas without mostaccioli cookies! Thanks Annika!

  11. They look great! I’ve never seen them before. Do you know which region in Italy they are from? Apart from the chocolate and shape the recipe reminds me of certosino di bologna.

    • Thanks Stefan! Them seem to have originated from Southern Italy in Calabria and some historians believe they are of Arab influence. I’ve never heard of certosino di bologna before….I love hearing about and discovering new foods!

  12. Hello Can you tell me why my cookies seem to be leaving little spots on the chocolate?

    • Hi Maria, I think you have what is referred to as a “sugar bloom” which is basically moisture retained by the chocolate. Sometimes this occurs from the manufacturer during the Chocolate making process but this can also happen during storage if our chocolates are kept in damp humid rooms. As a safe bet always keep Chocolate in a cool dry place. Also when I work with chocolate as a coating I always buy well packaged ones and I never use the ones that have been opened in my pantry. Having said that though it’s not something we can always avoid and it doesn’t mean your Chocolate went bad! Hope this helps.

  13. Wow these look delicious(and beautiful!). Do they freeze ok if I make a batch ahead of time?

    • Hi Markus, I actually stashed some away in the freezer unglazed. I prefer to glaze them the day of serving so that they are at their prettiest then but they keep well for a few days in a cool dry place. Thanks for dropping by Markus!

  14. Marisa, these bring back so many memories, especially the reference to those made with moulds. Mostaccioli are typical of Calabrese dolce, especially at holiday time. I have actually never made them, but have collected quite a few recipes. Yours look wonderful and would be a special addition to my cookie trays.

    • I’m glad to hear they bring back fond memories Paula and hope you get to try them one day. My recollection of these cookies were more the harder and dry variety but my husband and I both agree on these softer ones. Thanks so much😘

  15. Marisa they are absolutely beautiful. We have never made mostaccioli in my family but I am now compelled to try out your recipe. I find particularly intriguing the addition of limoncello. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Nadia! My aunt would make them when we were younger but these are slightly different in texture then hers were…they’re much softer and the black and white combination makes a lovely presentation! Hope you get to try them!

  16. These definitely need to go on the holiday baking list! My father will love them! He loves a cookie with the flavor of clove added! These are gorgeous, my friend!

    • Thanks so much Annie….cloves are one of those spices you either love or hate! Hope you get to try them and I’m sure your did will love them, they’re so much fun to make!

  17. marcellinaincucina

    I have just found your beautiful blog with delicious recipes! These mostaccioli look amazing! I have never made them but i love them. I have never had them with the chocolate glaze, though. I look forward to your recipes.

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