Mostaccioli… delicious Italian Christmas cookies that can use up half-drunk bottles of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo leftover from the night before.
More moist cake than hard cookies, this version of mostaccioli are packed with the flavours of the ancient Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, almonds, cinnamon, orange, lemon, chocolate, wine and coffee. Dating back to Roman times they were originally made with Must, the thick first press grape juice that contained seeds, stems and skins juice, that was spiced with cumin and wrapped in bay leaves, slightly different to their namesakes today. Obviously, recipes vary slightly with each Nonna, Mamma, village across Southern & Central Italy. This ‘Abruzzo’ variant is courtesy of the Aunt of our friends at ItaliaSweetItalia, she teaches how to make these in their cookery classes in Vasto.
Being English, the assorted exchange of biscuits and cakes over Christmas in Italy isn’t a traditional activity but one that I’ve adored sharing with our neighbours in Bascianella at Christmas. It got me thinking about what Christmas cookie indulgence I should share and bake with my little boy that BOTH adults and children alike would enjoy and become our Christmas tradition. Mostaccioli I think if judging by the reception by Dad, Childminder and little boy will become our family Christmas treat.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Mostaccioli Cookies
- 500 g 00 Flour
- 1 Egg
- 300 g Soft Brown Sugar
- 150 g Ground Almonds
- 75 g Cocoa Powder
- 75 g Melted Butter
- 470 ml Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
- 2 teaspoons Bicarbonate Soda
- Zest 1 Unwaxed Organic Lemon
- Zest from 1 Organic Orange or two Clementines
- Half Cinnamon Stick or 1.5 teaspoons of Ground Cinnamon
- 1.5 cups of Espresso Coffee
- 750 g Dark Chocolate the good quality stuff not cooking chocolate!
- Combine the wine with sugar and cook on a gentle heat, stirring frequently, until it forms a light caramel syrup.
- Mix the almonds with lemon and orange zest in a food processor.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa, cinnamon together.
- Combine all dry ingredients.
- Add egg and melted butter into the mix.
- Add coffee and wine slowly until you have a soft dough. DO NOT add everything at once as all flour is a little different in its absorbency and it is important not to make it too wet.
- Onto a floured counter add manageable amounts of your mixture. If it the dough is a little sticky roll in flour as appropriate. Cut the dough into diamonds shapes of 5 or 6 mm thick and bake on a baking sheet lined with baking powder for between 7-8 minutes.
- Melt the chocolate (bain marie) style and using a skewer dip the mostaccioli in one at a time and leave to dry for an hour. The chocolate helps keep them moist but you can sprinkle them with icing sugar for an immediate treat.
- Stir in an airtight container