La Lama Mountain Ovens
The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-American family - with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.
This is a cookbook-in-process project. If you try any of these recipes please let us know how they turn out, whether or not you had any difficulties, and any clarifying improvements you might recommend to make them foolproof. We will of course acknowledge genuine "test-kitchen" assistance.
Family Secrets #41
Mostaccioli - Chocolate Cookies
By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens
holidays upon us I decided to share with you a really
old, really wonderful recipe for Mostaccioli. These are a
chocolate spiced cookie that must rest overnight to
develop their full flavor. They look rather ordinary on
the plate, surrounded by fancy rolls, cornucopias, and
multi-layered bar cookies, but one bite will confirm that
this recipe is a keeper. It has been passed down from the
"master" of Mostaccioli, Aunt Mary Biordi. Her
handwritten notes are over 50 years old. Her four
daughters have all worked together, not only to preserve
this family secret, but to make it workable for our
Aunt Mary's original recipe made about 250 cookies. She was a little more meticulous than our Mom about writing measurements, but her directions were sketchy at best. She simply knew that if there was a celebration of any sort that everyone would anticipate her specialty. I never knew her to disappoint us. I also never knew one to be left on the plate.
Picture 1974. Left to Right:
Celeste Janosko nee Biordi (1947- ),
Merceda Saffron nee Biordi (1943- ),
Mary Biordi nee Buzzelli (1913-1987),
Concetta (Connie) Robinson nee Biordi (1949- ),
Diana Biordi (1940- )
|Eventually her four
daughters went to work to cut the recipe down to a
manageable size for our generation. As any good baker
knows this is not as simple as it sounds. In addition
they faced the task of completing her directions so that
a reasonable baker would have success. The third hurdle
was to assess the ingredients. What was available 50
years ago is not the same as what we have available
today. For all of you attempting to recreate old family
recipes this is a most important fact to keep in mind.
This is not an easy dough to work with. It is sticky and wet; but have patience and don't despair. Keep everything very lightly floured and work in small batches, and above all, follow the directions. It has taken many years to make this work, and you will be amply rewarded with a great cookie. The recipe has been "scaled" for accuracy, but if you don't have a kitchen scale a reminder for you is that 5 ounces of flour is approximately one cup.
Yield, approx. 60 cookies
|Preheat oven to 350. Toast almonds until
just golden, about five minutes. Cool and set aside.
Place flour in bowl large enough to hold all ingredients easily. Cut cold butter in with pastry cutter until small pea size. Add brown sugar and continue cutting and mixing. Add baking powder, cocoa and spices, and mix again. Add cooled almonds and citron and mix again. Make a well in the center of these dry ingredients.
Melt unsweetened chocolate in double boiler or microwave until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Beat eggs in mixer until light and frothy. Add eggs, melted and cooled chocolate and milk to well of flour mixture, and with a wooden spoon mix quickly and lightly until all flour is absorbed. This is a sticky dough. Do not add additional flour at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a cool spot overnight. Do not refrigerate.
Baking Day: Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (ideal) or lightly oil them.
Lightly flour your board. Oil the largest rolling pin you have lightly with plain vegetable oil, and wipe it with a paper towel. This will assist you in rolling this sticky dough without adding too much flour. Flour your hands as well. Work with about 1/4 of the dough at a time, or no more than your pin can handle. Keep a dough scraper handy to assist you. Roll quickly and lightly, using the dough scraper to turn the dough several times, reflouring very lightly each time. Roll to about 1/3 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (stars are traditional but a simple round 3" glass works well). Keep your cutter floured. Place on sheets an inch apart. They should not spread. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Test at 8 minutes. As soon as a toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven. They will feel soft but will set up as they cool. Do not overbake or they will be dry and hard. Let cool five minutes in pan on a rack. Remove carefully to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Glaze: Mix 1 cup confectioner's sugar with 1/4 tsp. almond extract and a tsp. or two of water to thin. Brush thinly on each cooled cookie with a pastry brush, and let set until dry. Store in tins for up to 10 days or freeze.
Altitude Adjustment: None necessary.