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Chocolate Spice Cookies  (Mostaciolli)

(Makes about 60 cookies)
Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies - Mostaciolli
Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Icing:
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
Colored sprinkles

Directions:

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, and spices; set aside.
In another bowl combine the eggs and sugar.

With an electric mixer, beat the mixture until the eggs thicken and become
very pale in color.  Add the olive oil and beat just to incorporate.  Add the milk
and vanilla and again beat just to incorporate.  Add the flour mixture and stir
until smooth.  Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Refrigerate the dough
for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll into smooth balls about 1-inch in
diameter.  Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 10-12 minutes; the tops will look dry and have numerous cracks.
Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

To make the icing:
With an electric mixer, combine the sugar, butter, and vanilla.  Add 2
tablespoons of milk.  Beat until creamy and smooth.  The icing should have the
consistency of thick heavy cream.  If necessary, beat in more milk a little at
time.

Place the wire racks of the cooled cookies over baking sheets.  One at a time,
dip the tops of the cookies into the icing.  Place them back on the wire racks
and dust with the colored sprinkles.

Store the cookies in airtight containers at room temperature for 3-4 days.
There are numerous varieties of Italian cookies that are called mostaciolli.  The two things that they
all seem to have in common is that they all contain a number of spices and they all originate in the
regions of southern Italy.  This recipe is just one type of mostaciolli.  The original recipe called for
the addtition of chopped dried fruit but over the years we have substituted mini chocolate chips and
prefer them that way.
Chocolate Spice Cookies  (Mostaciolli)
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DESSERTS  >  COOKIES  >  CHOCOLATE SPICE COOKIES (MOSTACIOLLI)
MOSTACIOLLI
Mostaciolli, or "little mustaches" is a
common pasta shape similar to penne,
with origins in the Campania region of
Italy.  Mostaciolli is also the name of a 
type of spice cookie that has been
traditionally very popular throughout
central and southern Italy for centuries. 
Some people claim that the cookies got
their name from the mosto cotto, or grape
must, that was an ingredient in the
original recipe.  That ingredient is in very
few recipes today.  The name of the
cookies differ from region to region.  In
Calabria, they are called "mustazzola"
and "mastazzolu,"  in Sardinia
"mustazzolus."  There are also many
different versions of mostaciolli, some
contain honey, molasses, or chocolate;
some are harder or softer, some are
formed in the shape of diamonds, others
into balls.  But all mostaciolli recipes are
very rich in spices.
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