The recipe for “mostacciuoli” has been part of my family’s tradition for at least a century. It is written in the recipe book of my great-grandmother Giulia de Lisio, who was born and lived in Molise. Molise is a small, mainly mountainous region of southern Italy inhabited by the Samnites that from 1861 to 1963 was associated administratively with Abruzzo. It stretches the coast of the Adriatic bordering Abruzzo, Lazio, Campania and Apulia. In the history of pre-unified Italy, Molise depended politically on the Kingdom of Naples. Molise’s history included the presence of the Romans, Lombards, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and the Bourbonsalso, whose legacies are traced in its art and architecture as well as in its culinary traditions. This cookbook from Molise becomes the starting point to discover and outline family histories contextualized in a specific time (1920-1928), geographically located in the province of Campobasso and the villages of Castelbottaccio, Casacalenda, Civitacampomarano and Larino. The approximately one hundred recipes, were written with brown ink by three female hands that alternated in time: my great-grandmother Giulia, aunt Marietta and my grandmother Elena. Three female figures linked by relationships ranging from complicity, respect, esteem, love and hate. The great-grandmother Giulia died in 1922 and the young maid Maria (Aunt Marietta) became the second wife of my great-grandfather Michele, a lawyer by profession. Because Elena, my grandmother, never accepted her father’s choice in 1928 she moved to Rome, after her wedding, never to return to Molise. She brought with her the cookbook, maintaining a link with her homeland directly through food.
Pour the flour, ground almonds, melted honey, ammonia for sweets, bitter cocoa, cinnamon, clove powder and whole eggs into a bowl, mix until the mixture is smooth. Roll out the dough in a 1cm thick layer, cut the biscuits into rhombus shapes. Arrange on an oiled baking tray (or parchment paper) and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Let it cool down.
In the meantime, melt the dark chocolate in a bain-marie with the seed oil and when it is liquid, throw in the “mostacciuoli” and let them be completely covered with chocolate.
Remove them from the saucepan and let them dry on a sheet of waxed paper. The cookies keep for about two weeks.