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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
- COOKIE DOUGH
- 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
- FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
- 12 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 12 ounces white chocolate
- vegetable oil for thinning the chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, finely ground almonds, cocoa powder, cloves, cinnamon, baking powder and salt then set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the eggs together.
- Mix in the sugar and honey, beating until very well combined.
- Stir in the orange and lemon zest, the vanilla extract and limoncello.
- Slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined.
- Stir in the grated chocolate.
- The dough will be very soft and pliable.
- Working with small portions of the dough at a time (about 1 heaping cupful) transfer to a well floured surface.
- With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ⅓ of an inch thick.
- 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.)
- Re-rolled the scraps to shape and cut just 1 more time.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. The cookies should still be slightly soft to the touch when ready.
- While one batch is baking in the oven continue rolling and cutting with the remaining dough.
- Make sure the cookies cool completely before dipping in chocolate.
- CHOCOLATE COATING:
- 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.
- Thin the chocolate with a little bit of vegetable oil to loosen the consistency somewhat for easy dipping.
- Dip half a batch of the cookies into the melted semi-sweet chocolate and place on a cooling rack till the chocolate sets.
- Repeat by melting the white chocolate and coating the remaining cookies.
- 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.
- Allow for the chocolate to set completely before storing.