Calabrian MOSTACCIOLI: the secret recipe between history and traditions
What makes people happy? What’s that thing that gathers people together in a unique feeling? What’s that emotion that is nothing more than a set of memories of our childhood enclosed in scents, sensations, hugs, games, laughter, and happy tears shared with dear people? So what is this powerful thing that makes us so close? Just a simple word: Food.
Every country, every city, every small village, and above all every single family has its typical local dish: in Spain, you can find “Churros”, in France the “Tarte aux fraises”, in Scotland “shortbread” biscuits, in Poland the “Makowiec”, in Portugal the “Pastel de nata”, in Germany the “Mohnkuchen”, and do you know any excellent Italian pastry speciality? Each region of Italy has its own typical sweets.
Today I will take you into the magical sweet world of Calabria. At this time of the year, one of the best typical specialities of this wonderful land is MOSTACCIOLI, crunchy honey biscuits. The Mostaccioli of Soriano Calabro in the province of Vibo Valentia (also called mustazzolu or mastazzolu) are typical sweets based on simple ingredients: flour, honey and mulled wine. These biscuits are prepared for every happy event: weddings, baptisms, and graduations, and depending on the areas in which they are prepared their shape can vary significantly; More often you can find them in the shape of “horse”, “fish”, “goat”, “palm”, “mermaid” and many more. The characteristic of mostaccioli is its compact and “cracking” consistency, very hard, which allows the mostaccioli also to be stored for a long time.
Mostaccioli have an ancient tradition, from generation to generation they can not miss during weddings: to prepare them is the family of the bride who makes a large biscuit, almost as long as a table of 6 people! The large mostacciolo is then offered as a dessert at the end of the celebrations still today.
Years ago, the mostacciolo was also the protagonist of a particular rite: on the wedding day, when the bride was ready to go to church, this great mostacciolo was brought by a group of relatives of the bride to the house of the groom, who understood that the bride was ready to go to the altar. It was the groom’s family’s responsibility to bring the mostacciolo to the wedding. At the end of the celebration, the two spouses raised the great mostacciolo and broke it: the one who remained the largest part was also entitled to be the head of the family. But often the result was obvious: the mother of the groom practiced cuts under the mostacciolo, when this was in her custody, and suggested to the groom the position on which side to break the biscuit to have the larger part in order to ensure the son’s decision-making power. Mostaccioli are biscuits that have been handed down for many generations; every family has its secret recipe.
INGREDIENTS for about 7 MOSTACCIOLI Millefiori honey 500 g Flour 00 550 g Medium yolks 3 Baking powder for cakes 8 g
To prepare the Calabrian mostaccioli, first sift the flour in a bowl, together with the yeast. In the center add the yolks and honey. After, knead the ingredients with your hands. If the dough is still sticky, add more flour. Continue like this until you get a smooth and compact dough. Divide the dough into parts of 140 g each, there will be about 7, and keep aside the leftover dough because it will serve for decorations. Shape each piece and flatten it a little with your hands.
Bake the mostaccioli in a hot static oven at 180 ºC for 35-40 minutes. (ventilated oven 160 ºC for 30 minutes) until they become a nice dark colour. Once baked, brush the mostaccioli still warm with honey and decorate as you like! Let the mostaccioli dry for a few hours so that the dough absorbs the honey, dries, and hardens. Now, they are ready to be eaten!
Author: Roberta Muratore - JUMP Team