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Chocolate Spice Cookies  (Mostaciolli)

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

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

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


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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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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This 3-tier cooling rack saves precious counter space and time, allowing you to cool three levels of baked goods at a time.  The rack also has an extra support arm for heavier items such as pies and cakes and folds up flat for easy storage.
The 4-quart storage container has measurement markings clearly display remaining flour. The leveling bar clips across the bin for easy, mess free measuring, or it can snap and store under the lid.
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