Mustazzueli

Pugliese Almond Cookies

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes About

    25

Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

These simple almond cookies from Puglia seem incredibly hard when you first attempt to bite into them, but once in your mouth they crumble very satisfactorily, and can also be dunked in dessert wine. A similar style of biscuit or cookie is made in the Cosenza area of Calabria, where they are known as mostaccioli. The Calabrian recipe adds a little aniseed liqueur and some grated orange rind to the mixture, and the resulting texture is lighter.

Ingredients

  • 250 g/9 oz/2 ¼ cups whole blanched almonds
  • 250 g/9 oz/generous 1 cup sugar
  • 75 ml/5 tbsp cold water
  • 350 g/12 oz/3 cups plain/all-purpose white flour, sifted twice

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Spread out the almonds evenly over one or two baking sheets and toast for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Take the almonds out of the oven, but leave the oven switched on.
  2. Put the sugar into a small pan. Add the water and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has formed a smooth syrup. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.

  3. Grind the almonds to a fine powder in a food processor or nut mill.

  4. Put three-quarters of the flour on to a clean work surface. Make a hollow in the middle. Pour the ground almonds into the hollow and add the syrup.
  5. Mix the syrup into the flour and almonds with your hands, working quickly to achieve a smooth and elastic dough.

  6. Sprinkle half the remaining flour on the work surface. Shape the dough into a cylinder with a diameter of about 4cm/1½in.
  7. Using a knife, cut the cylinder into about 20 even discs, then flatten each one with the palm of your hand, lightly floured, so that you reduce its thickness to about 5mm/¼in.

  8. Cut each dough disc into a roughly square shape using a 4cm/1½in cookie cutter, and re-shape the excess dough.
  9. Use the remaining flour to dust one or more baking sheets. Arrange the cookies on them in rows. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave the cookies on the baking sheets for 1-2 minutes to firm up, then, using a spatula, transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Stored in airtight containers, the mustazzueli will keep for up to 1 month.