One of the pastry shops I visited in Otranto was selling ‘mostaccioli’, diamond-shaped chocolate-covered biscotti traditionally eaten at Christmas (not to be confused with the tube-shaped pasta of the same name). They are rich and spicy with an ingredient I could not quite put my finger on so I asked the shop assistant; she told me it was vincotto, with a dash of nutmeg and cloves.
‘Vincotto’ literally means cooked wine and is the sticky sweet syrup derived from reduced grape juice. To balance the sweetness, I add a touch of good-quality balsamic vinegar to the dough, which sounds odd but gives it a well-balanced depth. Taste the dough and add a touch of balsamic at the end if you feel the mix needs it, or just leave it out altogether. If the dough becomes too sticky while you are working it, add a little bit more flour. The chocolate coating tastes richly decadent – a fitting finale to a Christmas lunch or any family celebration.Read More