12 Days of Christmas Cookies – Mostaccioli

by Elizabeth on December 1, 2010 · 3 comments

in Christmas, christmas cookies, desserts, recipes, watch me bake

Mostaccioli (say: Mousta-chi-oly) are a southern Italian chocolate cookie and should not be confused with mostaccioli pasta, which is similar in size and shape to penne. There is lots of discussion on how these cookies should be made, mostly revolving around the inclusion (or exclusion) of ground almonds/almond flour and which spices to use. Some people shape them like diamonds, others make the round. Some use chocolate icing, others white. The differences appear to be both regional and based on personal preference. My grandmother, who hails from the province of Bari in the region of Puglia, made a very similar cookie that she called Diavolacci (say: devil-a-chi). She made hers with ground almonds, and either iced them with white or chocolate icing. Hers were cut in diamonds.

Sadly, I never got my grandmother’s recipe. For several years I’ve been hunting recipes similar to hers. I’ve yet to find a recipe that produces the exact shape and flavor of hers, but I have found one that has a similar flavor. While I made mine with 2 cups of all-purpose flour, you can use 1 cup almond flour made from grinding blanched, slivered almonds in a food processor, and 1 cup all-purpose flour.

I hope you enjoy this taste of my family’s heritage as much as I do!

Mostaccioli – makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 cups flour*

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup sugar

½ cup butter (1 stick), softened

1 large egg

½ cup milk


1 cup powdered sugar, sifted**

3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Sprinkles, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, a silicone baking mat, or grease the pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt until combined.

In a large bowl cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy (about 2-4 minutes). Mix in egg. Scrape sides of bowl down and mix again. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined, scraping bowl when needed to make sure everything is mixed thoroughly.

To shape: Grease hands thoroughly with butter or cooking spray. Use a level tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Space the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared pans.

Bake for 7-9 minutes. Cookies will look dry and cracked. Let cool on pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Icing: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, extract, and 3 tablespoons heavy cream and mix until all the sugar is absorbed. You want it to be thinner than traditional icing, but thicker than a typical glaze. To thin icing, add more heavy cream, a teaspoon at a time.

Dip the tops of the cookies into the icing, making sure the icing covers the entire top of the cookies and fills in all the crevices. If desired, sprinkle the tops with festive holiday sprinkles.

*You can also substitute 1 cup almond flour, or 1 cup ground almonds for 1 cup of the all-purpose flour.

**1 cup powdered sugar, sifted is not the same as 1 cup sifted powdered sugar. The difference you measure 1 cup of the powdered sugar and then you sifted versus sifting powdered sugar and then measuring out one cup. In this recipe you want to measure and then sift.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, let me know what you think!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 withduckandgoose December 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm

those look scrumptious! i'll definitely be trying this out 🙂


2 Elizabeth December 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I hope you like them! But if you don't…I have 11 more cookie recipes coming up!


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