One of our traditional pastries for Christmas time are the mostaccioli or mustaccioli. They are cookies covered in chocolate with a soft or harder inside.
The name comes from the original version when they were made with grape must (as sweetener). They were already mentioned in the 16th century when the personal cook of Pope Pius V, Bartolomeo Scappi, served them for a lunch of the prelate.
We buy them together with roccocò, susamielli, strufoli and of course almond paste pastries.
The diamond shape is characteristic for the cookie, and they are pretty big. But I saw also a smaller version of them. The taste is a little similar to the German Printen or Lebkuchen.
I tried a healthier paleo version by substituting the flour with all-purpose paleo flour. Instead of the sugar I used coconut sugar which gives it even a little more taste. Instead of the almond flour, that is required, I used hazelnut flour. This way it has a more nutty taste. Originally it has orange zest, I had lemons and used lemon zest. But you don’t really taste that. Instead of the cocoa I ground chocolate nips.
In Italy, we use pisto for the Christmassy taste. Very similar is the American pumpkin spice mixture. To make homemade pisto, you need the following:
15 g cinnamon
5 g pepper
5 g nutmeg
2 g cloves
2 g star anise
2 g cilantro seeds
All ingredients are ground or better freshly pounded in a mortar, and then briefly toasted in a pan to give them more taste. Store the pisto powder in an air-tide jar.
Normally the mustaccioli are not decorated. But I thought they should have a more Christmassy look. I used: green pistachio powder, beetroot reddened xylitol and crushed almonds.
Children will love these cookies. They are super tasty. They can be stored up to a couple of weeks in an air-tide container, but I am sure you can’t even bake enough to get them through a couple of days.
Sometimes older people in Campania like to dip them in a glass of wine (red or white) before eating them. Similar to the roccocò. But the mustaccioli just need a short dip as they are soft and don’t need to be softened like the very hard and dry roccocò.
Enjoy our Christmas tradition and…