A guest post by Diane from Kitchen Bliss; a very talented friend that I love meeting for lunch. I was fortunate enough to devour a box full of these delicious cookies with my boys, and they were scrumptious. They didn’t last very long at all……
You are reading this because you are part of the Ginni / Spicy Eggplant fan club. If the office of fan club president ever becomes open, I will run! I hope you have read her story about her initiation into the world of cooking – it should be turned into a movie! From what she herself admits was a late start in the kitchen, she is now uniquely talented and prolific with both food and words.
Who would not jump at her offer to be a guest blogger – the conditions of which included that it must be a treat and spicy! What might make her happy? How about cookies featuring cloves? Does cloves in cookies sound odd? Keep in mind that cloves make a minor appearance in many gingerbread recipes. Here, although combined with cinnamon, it is the flavour of cloves that shines through for a startlingly yummy eating experience – of course there is chocolate as well…
Mostaccioli. These are classic Italian cookies, appearing at every Italian wedding and baby shower. The name comes from the word “must” (moosht) or “mosto” – which is a kind of grape juice from the winemaking process. It seems that there was a time when these cookies were sweetened not with sugar, but with mosto.
What about the cloves? Where do they figure into the history of cuisine from this region? In some cases, the internet gives the impression that cloves appear mainly in the cuisine of Asian, African, and Near and Middle East countries. Estimates of when cloves reached Europe vary – sometimes placed as late as the 11th century. Yet there is evidence to the contrary – the least of which is that the term we use for this spice has Latin (Roman) origins. “Because these hard brown buds resemble a carpenter’s nail, the Romans called the spice clavus, meaning nail in Latin. From this Latin root (came)… the present-day English name, clove”. [Source] Cloves have even crept into Italian savoury dishes – as in versions of Bolognese sauce seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. Is your mouth watering yet? For now, content yourself with this magical cookie. I am so happy I no longer have to wait for shower parties to enjoy these!
There are many recipes for Mostaccioli on the internet. I have made several modifications to this one from Canadian Living.
1/3 cup (75 mL) walnuts, toasted, then chopped
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) cocoa powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 cup (50 mL) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) milk
1 cup (250 mL) mini semisweet chocolate chips (if no mini chips then coarsely chop regular sized)
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) strong brewed coffee
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup apricot jam
1) Toast the walnuts: spread them on a cookie sheet and toast at 350 F for 5-10 minutes. Let them cool and then chop into 1/8” pieces. Set aside until step 5.
2) Prepare the dry mix by whisking together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, cloves and salt.
3) Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, and then beat in the egg.
4) Add the dry mix, alternating with the milk – two additions of each, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
5) Stir in the mini chocolate chips and the chopped walnuts.
6) Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
7) Onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, place heaping 1 TB (20 ml) scoops about 2 inches apart. I roll these and then shape them into little “bricks”. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle some flour onto your hands.
8) In a 350 F oven, bake two sheets at a time on racks positioned in the top and bottom thirds of the oven – rotating and switching cookie sheets at the half way mark. Bake for 11-12 minutes or just until tops begin to crack.
9) For the glaze, add the vanilla to the coffee, and blend this into the icing sugar until you achieve a thick but runny consistency. Add the coffee gradually since you may not need it all.
10) The jam should have a mostly smooth consistency. If necessary, remove large chunks of apricot or blitz it all to make it smooth. The jam is going to be a very thin, shiny glaze under the icing sugar glaze. Microwave the jam for 20-30 seconds to make it runny and then brush it on to the tops of the cookies – ideally when they are still warm from the oven.
11) Once cookies are cooled, pick each one up and dip the top part into the glaze. Place on a wire rack so that any excess icing can drip down and through the rack.
12) Store in a tin, separating layers with waxed paper.
Dear Ginni, thanks for this opportunity! Dear Readers – I invite you to visit my site Kitchen Bliss!