A little close-up shot of the cookie and its crumb--very moist and very flavorful!
Folks, there were four dozen of these babies all over my kitchen--it smelled great!
Yes, that is pronounced like the pasta, but no, there is no pasta here. I waited a year to try this cookie out. I was a skeptic. (*If that doesn't tell you something about me, well, then I don't know what else to say!). I am a person who hems and haws over things quite a bit. I would say shopping with me can be maybe draining--I shop by myself a lot. I had to read and research the outcomes and history of a cookie with such a name--how could the Italians name a cookie after a pasta dish or visa versa? The word itself translates to "mustache" (if it doesn't, well, I am not a prolific speaker of the Italian language, so pardon me). However, when researching this, I came upon a recipe where the cookie was shaped into a mustache (not very appetizing to me)--albeit it was a white dough vs. the recipe for this cookie in its chocolate form (which played a huge part in my final decision). *There just aren't a whole lot of chocolate cookies happening at Christmas, so more cause for this mostaccioli cookie to make an appearance. I found this recipe, again, in Dolce Italiano: Desserts from The Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma (see my previous posts and raves about this woman and her pastry skills). I bought the cookbook a year ago and have waited til now to try it--hemming and hawing all the while.
Research on this cookie proved very interesting. Many versions, including one on the Good Housekeeping website, but also with about a two-star rating. Why? Someone noted that the recipe they tried tasted like a "mouth full of flour"--something I could totally relate to as being a turn off in my holiday baking (perhaps the baker did not know about the "scoop and scrape" method of flour measuring!). So, I read on and surfed further. Another website showed the cookie actually in a white dough base, with some chips thrown in, some with a fondant frosting in chocolate--looked good, but I am not a fan of fondant. Finally, after going into the level of Google where they ask: Is this what you were looking for--I moved on to begin my own ingredient list--making it yummy and vegan!
One of the key things I wanted to have on hand were currants (optional--but what I went with vs. the candied orange peels--instead, I used orange zest), and chocolate chips--not called for in the original recipe, but most definitely called for in mine--and cocoa and cake flour. I've really not baked with currants before (not a lot of scone making going on in this household). I stick to raisins most of the time. In Gina's recipe, she also calls for something called vincotto--a cooked wine made from cooked must of grapes--lending it a caramel and sweet, raisin or pruney flavor (truth be told, that did not sound appealing to me). We don't have alcohol in this house as neither of us drink so I had to find a substitute for this--the magic subbing ingredient I discovered after my research: balsamic vinegar. I found it listed as a suitable "sub" for the vincotto. It is no minor feat to bake this cookie. I had a lot of counter space in use yesterday--mostly for ingredients. But as my husband tasted this cookie and proclaimed he loved them, and added it was an awesome cookie for Christmas, I was overjoyed! I added the drizzle to the cookie using my favorite ingredient: powdered sugar with some soy milk and almond extract, which I thought took this cookie over-the-top! Really a great holiday vegan cookie and will make about four dozen--so get your Glad storage box out now! And, don't let this long list intimidate--this is worth every bit of the trouble!
Vegan Mostaccioli Cookie
1/3 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup or 1 stick Earth Balance Butter Sticks
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups Florida Crystals (or sugar)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa or just dark cocoa
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I had a bottle of "fig balsamic vinegar on hand--it worked lovely!)
1/4 cup water
6 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 8 tablespoons warm water
First, mix your Ener-G Egg Replacer together with the water and set aside. Next, prep your other ingredients and/or set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Place the whole almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove almonds from oven and allow them to cool, then chop them into pieces. (You can shut off the oven now--I'll tell you when to preheat again.) I always like to snack on "toasted" almonds--just an FYI--toast extra for snacking! Prep your two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Now, place the Earth Balance and first half cup of vegan chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds at a time and mix well after it begins to melt--continuting until the chips are fully melted and blended. In a large bowl, add all of the dry ingredients--flours through cocoa powder--and blend for about 15 seconds (helps mix in the fine dry seasonings). Next, in another bowl, add the wet ingredients--Earth Balance, agave, soy milk, Ener-G Egg Replacer and balsamic vinegar, orange zest and water and blend until all is just blended--don't over mix this! The dough should be wet, coming together and the dry flour incorporated. Next, add the melted chocolate and Earth Balance mixture. Beat for about a minute on low speed. Now add the chopped almonds and the other 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips. Place the bowl of dough in the fridge covered with plastic for about 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 325. Get those cookie sheets out next to you. Now, the rest is done with your hands! You should have a plate of flour ready for this. Place your hand into the flour--to keep the dough from sticking. Take about a teaspoon full of dough and with your fingers make a ball, then sort of flatten with your palm--no need to squish it, just pat it down. They can be about a 1/2 inch apart. Bake for about 14 minutes--watch your oven temperature--if this cookie overbakes, you will not be happy. Look for the top of the cookies to begin to crack a bit. Remove from oven, let sit a minute. Then remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Now for the icing--real easy: take a cup of powdered sugar with a tablespoon of soy milk and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Mix well until creamy. Drizzle with a spoon held over cooled cookies.If that isn't your thing, just brush the frosting over the cookie instead. Eat with a smile!