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Mostacciolo Cookies: A Century-Old Recipe

Mostacciolo Cookies: A Century-Old Recipe

Unearth a special recipe tucked away in a 110-year-old handwritten book from Castelli, Italy. This recipe's history is as intriguing as its flavours, bridging the gap between Calabria and your kitchen through the hands of devoted monks. Enjoy the tradition, craftsmanship, and the indulgent taste of these delightful chocolate cookies, savouring more than just a dessert—a slice of Italian history.


16 egg yolks
500 grams of flour
500 grams of almonds
500 grams of dark chocolate (minimum 80% cocoa)
500 grams of sugar
350 grams of honey
130 grams of 100% cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
A pinch of nutmeg
Zest from 500 grams of lemons
1 tablespoon of rum


1. Toast the almonds: Begin by toasting the almonds until they achieve a rich, dark brown color. Allow them to cool before grinding them into a fine powder.
2. Melt the chocolate and honey: Set up a "bagno maria" or a double boiler to gently melt the 500 grams of dark chocolate (80% cocoa) and 350 grams of honey together. Stir occasionally until they form a smooth and velvety mixture. Once done, remove from heat and set aside.
3. Combine the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the following dry ingredients: flour, almond flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder and nutmeg.
4. Add flavours and aromas: Mix in the lemon zest from 500 grams of lemons to infuse the dough with a delightful citrus aroma. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and 1 tablespoon of rum for a touch of indulgence.
5. Incorporate egg yolks: Gently add the 16 egg yolks to the mixture and blend well. Your dough should begin to take shape and have a delightful, rich colour.
6. Introduce the chocolate mixture: Gradually fold in the melted chocolate and honey combination. The mixture will become even more decadent and luscious.
7. Rest the dough: To allow the flavours to meld and the dough to reach the perfect consistency, wet the dough with a bit of neutral oil and wrap it securely with cling wrap. Let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours, avoiding refrigeration.
8. Shape the cookies: After the resting period, the dough will be ready for shaping. Form it into a rectangular log and carefully cut it into diamond-shaped pieces.
9. Bake to perfection: Preheat your oven to 140°C (356°F). Place the ceramic pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 8-10 minutes.
10. Serve and enjoy: Serve them on a beautifully crafted ceramic plate and savour the taste of tradition and history.

Words and Photography by Nadia Whitehurst