Teste di moro, a traditional Neapolitan cake with an atypical name

A delicious Italian masterpiece

Teste di moro, or mallomars, as they’re best known worldwide, find their origins in Naples and they are basically chocolate pralines with a tender sponge-cake centre, softened with liqueur and usually covered with icing and chocolate flakes.


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Un post condiviso da Lucia Antonacci (@sweet_moments_lucy)

Origins of this atypical name

In order to discover the origins of this weird name, we need to date back to around the X century, when the Byzantine empire was reigning over Naples, in particular, at that time, most of the population was coming from Turkey or northern Africa and many Neapolitan people used to dub them as “moro” for their black skin. As a matter of fact, “teste di moro” recalls their dark skin tone and their prickly short curly hair, “teste” indeed, associated with the chocolate shavings in cookies. However, this cake was not meant to offend anyone whatsoever, conversely, it became a symbol of inclusion and of Naples as a melting pot of cultures and traditions, which was able, as typical of Italian people, to jokingly mock the “new” Neapolitan.


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Un post condiviso da Lucia Antonacci (@sweet_moments_lucy)

Let’s have a look at Teste di moro’s recipe

Ingredients (for 40 cookies around 5-6 cm diameter)

For cookies:
250 g all-purpose flour
110 g granulated sugar
1 egg
110 g butter
1 pinch of salt
1 tbs of vanilla extract              tbs = tablespoonful

For the filling:
25 g light corn syrup
225 g granulated sugar
10 g sheets silver gelatine
1 egg white
2 tbs of vanilla extract)
185 g water

250 g dark chocolate
25 g coconut butter


Make cookies:
First of all, in a bowl add butter, sugar, a pinch of salt and eggs and mix until everything is well combined.

Then, add the vanilla extract and the flour and keep on mixing until a dough is almost formed.
Make a ball, wrap it in cling film and let it cool in the fridge for 1 hour or so.

In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190 C and on a heavily floured surface roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. As a second step, cut the dough, and place it on prepared pans. After that, bake for 10 min and eventually, remove from pans, let cool and set aside.

Make the marshmallow filling:
Firstly, in another bowl put the egg white, whereas, in a small saucepan add 60 g of water with the gelatine sheets and let them soak for 10-15 minutes (they’ll rehydrate and soak almost all the water).

Secondly, in the small saucepan combine 125 g of the water, granulated sugar and corn syrup. Place over medium high heat and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
(If you have, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan until the mixture reaches 122°C.)

Once the gelatine in ready, melt it on low heat, stirring once in a while, until totally melted. Then, turn the heat off and leave in the pan until ready to use.

As last step, turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the egg white.
Once you have added all the syrup, add the dissolved gelatine and increase the speed to high. Continue whipping until the mixture becomes very thick, approximately 10 minutes

Let’s conclude with a touch of class
Take the cookies (now cooled) and pipe a generous amount of marshmallow on top of each.
Let them rest at room temperature for 1 hour, 1 hour and a half, until they dry a bit.

Melt chocolate and coconut butter and pour them into a mug.
Dip the cookies upside down into the chocolate, then let them set on a wire rack.

Guten Appetit!