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Cookies with Nuts
Mostaccioletti (Napoletana diamond-shaped spice vegan cookies, flavored with almonds, cinnamon, cloves and pepper)
Originated from: Naples, Campania, Italy
Occasion: Any time & special times
Contributed by: Taken from "Cucina Teorico-Pratica" by Ippolito Cavalcanti (1839).

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For cookie dough
1 pound of good quality fine flour
1 pound of thick sugar ("zucchero grasso")
1/4 ounce of powdered cinnamon
a bit of powdered cloves
2 ounces of almonds, roasted
A pinch of pepper
enough cold water to form a cookie dough

Cinnamon or chocolate frosting

Original Italian Text
una libbra di fior di farina
una libbra di zucchero grasso
una quarta d oncia di ottima cannella polverizzata
un pochino di polvere di garofalo
due once di mandorle brustolite
un tantino di pepe
acqua fresca
cannella o cioccolata


Take a pound of good quality fine flour, and the same amount of thick sugar, a quarter of an ounce of powdered cinnamon, bit of powdered cloves, two ounces of roasted almonds, and a touch of pepper.

Mix together with enough cold water to form a cookie dough.

Place the dough in a container, cover with a cloth, and let it rest for 24 hours.

Form as many [small-sized diamonds] mostaccioletti cookies as possible.


Top with cinnamon or chocolate icing.


Original Italian Text

"Prendi una libbra di fior di farina, ed un'altra di zucchero grasso, una quarta d oncia di ottima cannella polverizzata un pochino di polvere di garofalo due once di mandorle brustolite ed un tantino di pepe impastera tutto bene con acqua fresca riponendo questa pasta in un pan no lino in dove la farai riposare per ore ventiquattro di poi ne formerai tanti mostaccioletti che fara cuocere al forno facendoci dopo cotti il naspro o di cannella o cioccolata e quindi li farai asoiugare."


The recipe in this entry was taken from the book, "Cucina Teorico-Pratica" by Ippolito Cavalcanti (Naples: Di G. Palma, 1839). For the complete copyright-free Italian cookbook visit www.archive.org..... P.S. I tried this recipe and loved it (I can't say this recipe is as good for this type of cookie -- the most common name of which I believe is, "mostaccioli," -- as those traditional recipes that include eggs, but it's O.K.) The directions for this cookie are rather straight-forward. Still, the author does not indicate how much water is needed, nor does he indicate the shape of the cookie; he assumes everyone knows that mostaccioletti are formed in the shape of a diamond (possibly smaller than the traditional "mostaccioli" as when Italians add "etti" at the end of a word it generally refers to something that is smaller than the original). Luckily, diamond-shaped cookie cutters are gradually becoming available in some kitchenware specialty shops. I have been looking for them for years and was unable to find any. Montreal's Dollarshops have every possible cookie cutter shape, except diamonds. Even Italian specialty shops don't carry them, why I don't know, unless of course, it's because fewer and fewer home cooks are making their own "mostaccioli" cookies. This style of spice cookie can be found in some Italian pastry shops ("Italia La Casa della Pizza" at 5540 Jean-Talon East Montreal carries them and they're absolutely heavenly). If you don't live in Montreal and are looking for a cheap version of this cookie, packages of Austrian/German factory-made ones be found in most supermarkets; the Austrian/German cookies go by various names but they look and taste very similar to Italian "mostoccioli." In any case, I recently found a set of cookie-cutter diamonds at a shop in Westmount Square called, "Pot Pourri Gourmet." The cost a bit less than 5 dollars, which is reasonable for a kitchen utensile, I guess. The company that makes the diamonds is called "Fox Run Craftsmen." The name of the product is "Tinplated Cookie Cutters." 6 different-sized diamonds are contained in a tin round box. These diamond-shaped cookie cutters are a big help in making mostoccioli/mostaccioletti cookies.... Hopefully, I understood Cavalcanti's recipe directions, and did what I was supposed to do. The author does ask for "fior di farina" which I had no idea what he meant by it, as this expression as far as I know is not used nowadays. It literally means the flower of flour, but that can't be, so I gather it means that one should use the best quality flour possible. That makes sense. All I can say is that this style of Southern Italian spice cookie which comes in hundreds of variations, most using almond nuts, though a few use walnuts, is very pleasing to those who like their cookies with a bit of zing. Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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