Mostaccioli are typical Neapolitan cookies, also common through Southern Italy. The name of these cookies comes from the Latin mustacea, a cake made out of “must,” or unfermented grape juice. Cato, the anciant Roman philosopher, describes a cake made of combination of rye flour, cumin, cheese, anise, and eggs, wrapped in bay leaves.
In the modern traditional recipe, there is not much left of the ancient Roman one, other than a similarity in the name. But mostaccioli have been traditionally very popular all throughout central and southern Italy for centuries.
There are many different versions, some containing honey or chocolate, some harder or softer, but all very rich in spices.
Mostaccioli can become very tough if they become dry, but the chocolate icing help keep them soft for a longer time.
for the dough
2 cups (280 g) flour
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/3 cup (80 cc) water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon round cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
for the icing
6 oz (200 g) semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup (60 cc) water
1/4 cup (60 cc) corn syrup (light)
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
Preparing the dough
Combine flour and sugar in a bowl.
Mix the water, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, orange zest, baking powder, and baking soda together in a small bowl.
Add the water/spices mixture into the flour and mix until a dough starts forming. If the dough is too inconsistent, a little more water may be necessary.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it until smooth. Avoid working the dough too much or it may toughen.
Form a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it side at room temperature for about one hour. Preheat oven to 325 F (175 C).
Transfer the dough back to a floured working board.
Flatten with a rolling pin to about 1/4- inch thick, approximately 9” x 12” (22 x 30 cm).
Using a pizza wheel, cut first in strips about 2 inches wide.
Then cut diagonally to form rhomboidal shapes.
Transfer to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until light golden.
When ready, transfer the mostaccioli to a rack to cool.
Preparing the icing
This icing is not traditionally Italian, but it is very practical. In fact, it hardens quickly, but stays melted long enough for you to use it. When it is dry, it has a very shiny and smooth patina. If becomes too hard, just add a little bit of water and place it back on the stove until it melts again.
Chop the chocolate finely. Bring the water, sugar, and syrup to a boil in a saucepan.
Remove from the stove and combine the chopped chocolate until it is fully
Turn the mostaccioli upside down. Using a pastry brush, paint the bottoms of the mostaccioli with the chocolate. When the chocolate is hard, after about 10 minutes, paint the sides and top of the mostaccioli with abundant chocolate icing and set them aside for the chocolate to harden.