About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.


Desserts Archives

April 7, 2011

Bolognese Rice Cake


It's time for my first dessert - Bolognese Rice Cake. When reading through the desserts I would be cooking, this one intrigued me. Marcella says that in Bologna, this cake used to only be made at Easter. There was much discussion over who's cake was the most authentic and the tasted the best. She says that this recipe was given to her by the Simili sisters, two well-known Bolognese bakers.

The recipe is quite different from any I have made. You cook milk, lemon peel, sugar and a small amount of Arborio rice in a saucepan for at least 2 1/2 hours. It becomes a dense, pale-brown mushy mixture. I must have had my simmer too low, because I cooked mine about 3 or 3 1/2 hours before it became this consistency. You then beat together eggs, and then fold in the mushy rice/milk mixture, chopped almonds, and candied citron. This is then poured into a cake pan and baked. When the cake is done, the top is poked with a fork and rum is poured over.

Marcella says to not eat it for at least 24 hours, and if it matures for 2 to 3 days it just gets better. I totally agree. I tasted mine before the 24 hour time frame, and it was just okay. The rum was too strong and the flavors didn't really blend together. By the 3rd day, the citron had softened, and the flavors melded together. I'm not sure what to compare this cake to-a rice pudding or a flan? Sort of, but not really. It's an interesting cake. I don't know if I would make it again, but I enjoyed it very much.


April 9, 2011

Glazed Bread Pudding

We've been playing with vegetables and other healthy stuff since before Christmas! It is fitting that we move on to sweet things next.

I was curious to see what this chapter would bring. When you think of Italian food I imagine that for most people desserts don't come into the picture. Pizza, pasta, cheese, grilled meats, veggies, salads, fish . . . yes! Cakes, tarts, cookies . . . not for most of us.

In fact, I conducted a wee survey today at work (because apparenlty I was bored) and asked 10 colleagues to name an Italian dessert. No one could name one. Then I asked one of our admin assistants who is of Italian descent - she at least came up with cannoli, gelato, Tiramisu, Semifreddo, panna cotta, and zuppa englese.

My first foray into the world of Marcella's desserts was a glazed bread pudding. I admit to feeling let down. Bread pudding? This seemed neither Italian nor all that interesting for that matter. Bread pudding has a bad name in my family - my mom calls it 'depression food' - for the era, not the state of mind she falls into when she sees it in front of her.

Bread pudding, regardless of attempts to 'trendify' itself over the years is a humble thing. No doubt the original recipes for it were vehicles to use up the last scraps of stale bread. Marcella's recipe seems to harken back to that time when cooks had to make use of every bit of food - nothing being wasted.

I've made a number of bread puddings over the years but absolutely none were made like this one - here the bread is soaked in warm milk until it becomes a sodden mass.

Paul walked as I was embarked on the next step in the recipe and suggested that the contents of the bowl looked like the contents of one's stomach after having eaten. SIGH

The mushed up bread DID have the appearance of bread that had been well chewed by a baby!

To this mixture you add soaked raisins, sugar, pine nuts, and egg yolks. The final step is to beat egg whites and fold them in. This admittedly unappetizing looking mixture is poured into a pan coated with caramelized sugar. 75 minutes later the pudding comes out of the oven.

Once out of the oven you pierce it with a fork and pour rum over top.

The final step is to unmould it onto a pan. This is when disaster struck - the pudding did NOT wish to leave its pan. In fact, it broke into pieces. After having checked to see if anyone witnessed my crisis, I stuck the pieces back together and covered the whole thing and placed it in the refrigerator (Marcella advises that it is best the next day).

I served it up the following day.

The verdict?

You guessed it - this was bloody amazing! Proof, yet again, that simple dishes without excessive sauces, spices, and flavourings, can impress. I even tried it out on mom - who immediately wore an expression that looked as if she were sucking on a lemon when I asked her if she wanted some bread pudding - when I wasn't looking she snuck a HUGE portion into a container and snuck it home.

That, boys and girls, was likely the highest praise that there could be.

April 10, 2011

Sbricciolona-Ferrara’s Crumbly Cake

This is a simple recipe that really lets you get your hands dirty. It starts with a mixture of ground almonds, cornmeal, flour, sugar, and lemon peel. Then egg yolks are mixed in with your fingers until small pellets are formed. A stick of butter is softened and then blended in, again using your hands, until everything is evenly mixed and holds loosely together. This is then crumbled into a buttered 12 inch cake pan and then baked for 40 minutes. I didn’t have a 12 inch pan so I substituted a 10 inch springform pan, which worked great. I cut this about 5 minutes after it came out of the oven, because I wanted nice even pieces. You have to cut it when it is warm, or it will break into irregular pieces when it is cold.


This smelled great while it was cooking, so waiting for it to cool completely was torture. Its texture and taste reminded me of a scone, with a little extra crunchiness from the cornmeal. This recipe is listed in the dessert chapter, but for our house it should be listed in the breakfast chapter. Michael has developed the habit, which was handed down by his Grandmother, of eating light flavored biscotti or cookies with his coffee in the morning. I can always tell when we have those in the house, because his coffee cup ends up with a layer of crumbs in the bottom. I suspect that tomorrow morning the cup will have its fair share of evidence waiting for me to find when I load the dishwasher. I’m sure this recipe will become his new favorite to dunk. I have a feeling that I will be getting my hands dirty repeating this recipe a lot in the future.

April 11, 2011

Sweet Pastry Fritters

Fried dough sprinkled with sugar. What’s not to love?

The key ingredient of this dessert is lard. It has been many years since I’ve cooked with lard. However, I managed to find some in Mexican foods section of the grocery store.


The lard is mixed together with flour, a little sugar, white wine, salt, and one egg. This all comes together loosely before being kneaded until smooth. This step is very similar to making pie crust.

dough before resting 15 minutes

Next, the dough is rolled out to 1/8 thickness and cut into strips of 5” by 1/2”. I will admit I was a little confused about how to twist and shape this small strip of dough into a bow. I decided to just twist and make a crisscross.


Each fritter is fried in hot lard until golden brown.

first round draining

A sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar is the finishing touch. On the left you will see a sprinkle. I wondered what a thicker coating of the sugar would taste like so I was more liberal with the fritters on the right. Both versions tasted good. The fritter turns out light, crisp and slightly sweet. They were great with a cup of hot tea. I’m going to make them again using the lard substitutes (butter & vegetable oil) so I can compare the taste.


I thought we consumed the entire batch. I latter discovered my husband stashed some in a bowl marked with his initial. I had a big laugh. In nine years he has never marked his food. I take that as a compliment.


April 12, 2011

Apple Fritters

The only way I've had a dish called apple fritters is as a fried dough. This simple treatment is so much more delicious.


The peeled, sliced apple rings are soaked for an hour in a mixture of sugar, grated lemon peel, and rum. Then they are dipped in a pastella and fried in hot vegetable oil until they become a golden brown.


After draining, they're served hot with a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

Here is where I veered off the straight and narrow just a teeny bit. There was a couple of tablespoons of that rum mixture left. I hated to waste it. So I blended it together with equal parts mascarpone and Bulgarian yogurt to make a sauce which I spread in the center of the plate before arranging the fritters on top.


April 14, 2011



Today's dessert comes from Florence. It's called Zuccotto, and is a dome-shaped dessert. It's a very easy dessert to make, and the result is very beautiful to look at.

You line a bowl with pieces of purchased pound cake that have been sliced, then cut into triangular pieces. It you do it right you'll end up with a really pretty pattern on the outside of the dessert. You sprinkle the pound cake with a liqueur mixture (Cognac, Maraschino liqueur, and Cointreau). You then toast some almonds and hazelnuts, and chop some semi-sweet chocolate. Next, whip heavy cream. Stir in the nuts and chocolate, and spread half of this mixture into the pound cake-lined bowl, making a well in the center. Then you melt some chocolate, and stir that into the other half of the whipped cream. Fill the well in the center of the bowl with this chocolate whipped cream. You finish by lining the top with more pound cake. Refrigerate for a few hours, unmold, and that's it.

The result was a very light-tasting but rich concoction. As with most Italian recipes, the ingredient list is short, and the flavors of each come through. So be sure and use good liqueur, good chocolate, etc. You'll impress your guests with this one.

(This is not a very good photo, but we were all in too big of a hurry to taste it!)

April 15, 2011

Monte Bianco

This has been a fun dish... one that comes with a story. Where should I begin?

Actually, I think this story begins in Italy... In Ferarra. In This Old Post you could see where Jerry and I spent a day taking photos of Bicycles in that beautiful Italian town. I conceeded bragging rights to Jerry for our little photo competition, based on a few well timed photos. I think he has felt a tad guilty over that ever since.

So... when I was desperate for Chestnuts to make my Monte Bianco, guess who came to my rescue? Jerry did! Not only did he find the chestnuts in Canada, he also made the recipe and sent me photos. What a champ!

Apparently fresh chestnuts are only available in Alabama during the one small week of Christmas; fresh chestnuts are essential to this dessert. "Monte Biano is a pyramid of dark chocolate and pureed fresh chestnuts, topped by a snowy peak of whipped cream" Marcella says that the aroma is a consolation for the approach of winter. And indeed resembles the white snow covered summit of Mont Blanc.

This is one recipe I can't wait to make ... next Christmas.

In the mean time, I hope that y'all will all take a second and go to Thoughts, Musings, and Rants and tell Jerry how much we appreciate his generosity.

Ciao y'all~ Sandi

April 18, 2011

Almond Cake

I was very excited to make this cake. I love almonds and almond desserts. This dessert is made with ground almonds, sugar, lemon zest, whipped egg whites and just 3/8 cup of flour. All of the ingredients are gently folded into the egg whites. The batter is spread in a buttered springform pan and baked. The cake is served completely cooled.

The cake was light, moist, sweet, and lemony. However, it did not taste like almonds at all. It only tasted like lemon. I could tell the almonds are in there because it is a little chewy. It reminds me of a macaroon. I’m not sure why the almond flavor is drowned out by the lemon peel. I bought a fresh bag of almonds from a store with high turnover. I tasted them before using. I did get raw almonds. Perhaps I should have toasted them before grinding. I would not call this cake a failure but I would not call it a success either.



April 19, 2011

Walnut Cake


I've been looking forward to this week's post as an opportunity to evangalize on behalf of Juglans Nigra. Here in North America, where we have a tendency to believe imported food delicacies to be automatically superior, I'm proud to proclaim that I am a black walnut snob.


I grew up in rural Missouri, the world's largest producer of black walnuts. I didn't taste a Persian walnut (commonly known as English walnut) until my family moved to the city and we began to buy our nuts from grocery stores instead of picking them up in the woods. Faced with having to pay real money, my mother tried the much cheaper, English walnuts.

My family quickly learned that compared to the robust flavor we were accustomed to, the English walnut is boringly bland.

I'll acknowledge that some people may prefer the prettier but anemic English walnut. Those people probably also prefer cafe Americano to a fresh bold espresso.

Marcella's recipe for Walnut Cake is a most delicious way to prove for yourself the superiority of the black walnut. I challenge you to make two - one with black walnuts, and one with English walnuts. Then come back here and tell my what you think.

The ingredients include butter, sugar, egg, grated lemon peel, flour, baking powder, rum, and walnuts. The cake is baked in a springform pan.

After finely grinding the roasted walnut meats, combine them with the rest of your ingredients. You will have a stiff batter. bake it at 325 for about 45 minutes.


As Marcella advises, "The concentrated flavor of this walnut cake makes a modest slice amply satisfying." I served ours with freshly churned pear ice cream, tying the flavors together by drizzling both with my homemade Black Walnut & Pear Brandy.


If you would like to learn more about the uniquely North American black walnut -- www.hammonsproducts.com

April 21, 2011

Polenta Shortcake with Raisins, Dried Figs, and Pine Nuts


This was one of the desserts I was really looking forward to trying. I love cakes, and Marcella's description made me look forward to it even more. She said this cake is a local specialty of Venice. During Venice's trading days with the Near East, they obtained ingredients such as the nuts and dried fruits that are ingredients in this cake.

The cake is a mixture of course cornmeal, olive oil, butter,sugar, pine nuts, raisins, dried figs, egg, fennel seed, and flour. It's a very easy cake to mix up, then the cake bakes for about 45 minutes. It's a pretty dense, rich cake, nicely served with a spoonful of whipped cream. I loved the flavor of the fennel seeds with the dried fruits and nuts. The only thing that I didn't love was the texture. I like a mealy texture of cornbread cakes, but maybe my cornbread was too coarse for this. The brand I used looked pretty coarse, so I even used the medium grind. But it was still very granular in the cake. Oh well, it tasted good, so that's the main concern.

April 22, 2011

Pisciotta--Olive Oil Cake

Marcella tells us that this cake originates in the hills above Verona so I knew my fruity and delicious Garda Olive Oil would be perfect for it and it was. Actually it became the star of the dish:


The recipe is very straight forward--Beat the eggs with the sugar:


Add lemon zest, Marsala wine and dry ingredients and put into a tube pan:


This cake smells divine while baking!

I actually baked it a bit too long, so the crust was a little dark but the interior was quite moist and the flavors were all there. I loved the levels of the subtle lemon and Marsala and the beautiful fruit of the gorgeous oil. This cake was absolutely fantastic!


April 23, 2011

Ciambella - Grandmother's Pastry Ring

This is Romagna's version of a breakfast cake, delicious with a morning caffee latte. Right up my alley! There is a hint of lemon zest, butter, flour, sugar, warm milk eggs, and either a combination of cream of tartar and baking soda, OR baking powder.

At first the dough was VERY dry, so I added a bit more milk to get it to come together. That could be because I live in very dry climate in the desert. The dough is kneaded, then formed into a roll, and pinched together into a ring. Before baking, it is brushed with an egg yolk wash, and scored with diagonal cuts.

It bakes into a beautiful golden ring, almost double the original size. It is perfect for breakfast of a snack with a great cup of good coffee! I felt like an Italian grandmother in my lemon scented kitchen.


Buona Pasqua a tutti!

April 24, 2011

Brutti Ma Buoni-Piedmontese Almond Cookies

One of the Italian bakeries “on the hill” here in town, Missouri Bakery, makes these cookies. These are always my favorite from among the many different types that they sell. I just knew them as macaroons, but now I know the real name for them. Marcella says the words mean ugly, but good and I can vouch for the good taste. Honestly, they don’t even seem ugly to me, but that may be because I know how good they really are.


These are very simple to make. Blanched, shelled, almonds are ground with sugar first. Then you whip egg whites until the stiff peak stage. Next, you fold the almond mixture and vanilla into the egg whites. Then you bake them for 30 minutes on a cookie pan covered in butter. Next time I will really slather on the butter, because even coating it liberally, I still had some cookies stick. Oh well, more butter can’t be a bad thing, right?

It was torture waiting for a full 30 minutes to see if I had made them correctly. The house filled with that wonderful toasted almond smell as I watched the timer slowly click down. When I opened the oven door and took them out I knew that I had a new recipe to add to my cookie repertoire.

April 25, 2011

Calabresi - Almond and Lemon Cookies

Okay, I have been totally defeated by almonds. This is my 2nd almond dessert recipe in as many weeks. I am again not happy with the final result. This time I made cookies. Marcella gives instruction for making them by hand or in the food processor. I chose the latter.

Blanched almonds are pulverized with sugar. Then egg yolks, salt, flour and lemon peel and juice are added. This is all mixed until a smooth lump forms. Here was my first challenge. My dough did not combine. It was like loose coarse crumbs. When I pinched it between my fingers it would not hold together. I was not sure what else I should add. I feared more lemon juice would mask the almond flavor. I thought about adding water but decided to add another egg yolk. My yolks seemed smaller than usual for large eggs. I assumed this was the problem. The third yolk was added, dough processed and lump was formed.

The dough is rolled out, cut into rounds, brushed with egg wash and baked. Here was my second challenge. They did not brown. Assuming I rolled them a little thicker than 1/4”, I cooked them for three more minutes. The bottoms were starting to brown but the tops were blond. I removed them from the oven. Isn’t egg wash supposed to help with browning?

After the cookies cooled, I tasted them. This was the final challenge. As with the last recipe I could not taste the almond. The lemon flavor was present but not overpowering. The cookies are lightly sweetened. My best guess is these are close but not quite.


April 26, 2011

Gallette - Salt and Pepper Biscuits

For our readers who speak British English, there is no sugar in these biscuits. They aren't what Americans call cookies. They're savory, spicy, and a perfectly delicious ending to a hearty meal.


Flour, egg, olive oil, baking powder, and plenty of salt and pepper are the ingredients.


After combining the ingredients, the dough rests for a bit. Then it's rolled out thinly, cut into two-inch disks, given a little egg wash, and baked.


With Marcella's suggestion that "These are excellent aperitif cookies." I decided their peppery taste would pair perfectly with my homemade strawberry & black peppercorn liqueur.


April 28, 2011

Zuppa Inglese


Zuppa Inglese is a dessert that is pound cake that's soaking in a custard cream. Marcella says that it resembles the bread soaking in peasant soups, so that is why it is called a Zuppa. But why Inglese is in the title is not known. She says this recipe is based on the dense version they make in Emilia-Romagna. The recipe calls for pound cake to be drizzled with Alchermes, a lightly spicy liqueur with a flowery scent, that's red in color and gets that color from the bodies of dried cochineal bugs. But it's not available outside of Italy, so she suggests a mixture of rum, Cognac, Dramuie, and Cherry Heering. The pound cake is sliced, brushed with the alcohol mixutre, and placed in a deep dish. This is topped with a custard cream, and then another layer of pound cake is placed on top. You then melt some chocolate, and mix that in with the remaining custard cream. This is spread over the pound cake, another layer of pound cake is added, and then it's topped with the last of the chocolate custard cream. You can top this off with toasted almonds if you choose. This mixture is refrigerated for at least 2 or 3 hours, and then served chilled. I made mine in individual bowls instead of one large serving bowl. It was quite good. Just make sure and use a combination of liqueurs that you like, as the flavor of the alcohol comes through quite strong.

April 29, 2011


I decided to make my Zabaglione when I had a little help in the kitchen. Little did I know that this dessert recipe would bring on criticism from my son, the Chef-to-be.
To be honest... my son is right. (this time and this time only)
The criticism has nothing to do with Marcella's recipe for Zabaglione, but the fact that I don't have a legit double boiler. I have made countless egg custards, chocolate sauces, and lemon curds; my 'ghetto' system of steel bowl in a pot of boiling water has served me well.

Until now.
We took the time to make the Zabaglione together. This recipe is really very simple... warmed egg yolks and sugar, whipped to a frenzy. Add a nice Marsala wine and whip to a froth. This is served over fruit and has the most unique sweet warm spiced wine flavor. It is something I would make again.

And maybe I'll be getting a real double boiler for Mother's Day.
Ciao y'all~

April 30, 2011

Cold Zabaglione with Red Wine

Yesterday Sandi made Zabaglione - that wonder frothy Italian concoction of cooked egg yolks, sugar, and wine that is slowly cooked and whipped into a frenzy. For my post today I got to make a similar recipe but mine was made with red wine.

Zabaglione is generally served warm, this one is not. All you need to do is follow the exact same recipe for the Zabaglione but instead of adding marsala you add 1 cup of full-bodied red wine. Marcella suggested a Barolo but the ones I had in my wine cellar were all over $ 100 so I couldn't quite bring myself around to that - instead I used a wonderful Barbaresco.

Normally zabaglione is made in a copper pot. Marcella suggests using a double boiler for those of us who aren't used to controlling this delicate cooking process. Then there are those of us who don't even own a double boiler (have you noticed how rare it is to find a decent set of cookware that includes a double boiler? It is as if the manufacturers are conspiring to ensure that certain cooking procedures die out in our era of speed, simplicity, and pre-fab food - porca miseria) .

Anyway, I digress. This was not meant as a rant about Calphalon. Back to the task at hand.

Not having a copper pot nor a double boiler I used the same technique as Sandi - a metal bowl over a pot of gently boiling water. It wasn't ideal to be sure, but it worked.

We really enjoyed this dessert and I'll be making it again. The wine infused the custard-like froth with a wonderful and most-welcome flavour. I can see why Italians often serve zabaglione as a strength-building tonic for someone suffering from a cold or other ailment. A bowl of this would sure as hell perk me up right away!

May 1, 2011

Italian Chocolate Mousse


Chocolate Mousse is one of my son’s favorite recipes and I was very glad to draw this one. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get home from college for a few days, so we won’t have his opinion on the taste of this recipe until long after this is posted. The good news is that Marcella says that this will keep for a few days without much change which means he will be able to try it when he does get home. That will make a nice homecoming treat for him.

In the past I have tried many different mousse recipes and one thing that they all had in common was a thick base made from whipping cream. This recipe was different in that the cream is not whipped very long. It is just whisked until it stiffened. It is then folded into the mixture of melted semi sweet chocolate, espresso, dark rum, egg yolks and sugar. The lightness in this recipe comes from the egg whites which are whipped until the stiff peak stage and then folded into the mixture.

This mousse is so light and airy. I thought that given the strong flavors from the chocolate, coffee and rum that the mousse itself would be heavy, but by adding the whipping cream and egg whites, the final product is almost like tasting a cloud. This will be a wonderful finale to our dinner this evening.

May 2, 2011

Ricotta and Coffee Cream


I lovingly refer to this dessert as an adult pudding cocktail. No, it does not taste like pudding. The color and texture reminds me of the childhood treat. This treat, my friends, is for adults.

My ingredients gave this recipe a bit of international flair. I used Brazilian Sugar, Italian Espresso & Ricotta, and Virgin Island Rum.

I actually made this last fall when I was fortunate to locate imported fresh ricotta. Italians sure know how to handle dairy products. The ricotta has a bright, clean, milky taste. Yummy!

The recipe comes together very quickly. I chose to mix it in a food processor for a creamy consistency. The blended mixture is then poured into individual serving cups and refrigerated overnight. Next time I will beat the mixture with 2 forks for a firmer texture. Garnish with espresso beans before serving. This is a wonderful blend of coffee and rum with a delicious creaminess. I loved it!

May 3, 2011

Crema Fritta - Fried Custard Cream

I barely snatched victory from the jaws of defeat this week. Crema Fritta isn't as easy as it sounds. After you see the happy conclusion in this photo, read on and find out how close I came to failure.


I was enjoying a zen-like trance while stirring the custard slowly in the double boiler. I swept the spatula left for several turns, then reversed to right. After a few minutes, I began counting the strokes and humming an Enya tune. It was dissappointing to come to the end of the thirty-five minutes of constant stirring - akin to the feeling I get when I wish I'd booked an hour long massage instead of a half-hour.


Following instruction, I poured the custard out onto a moistened platter to cool. When it was cold, It was time to cut it into diamond-shaped pieces. Here is where my nightmare began. It appears I am geometrically challenged. For the life of me, I couldn't get those diamonds to look like diamonds. They looked like squares resting on one of their corners. I gave up and decided the shape, as long as it was the same general size, couldn't affect the taste. So I moved on to the dredging stage. This turned out to be easier than I expected.


Next was the frying. I made sure the oil was very hot before slipping in the first piece. The first three pieces cracked open completely. My remedy was to add another coat of bread crumbs to the remaining pieces. While I was doing that, the leftover crumbs of breading from the first batch were burning away in the bottom of the pan of oil. As a result the second batch turned an ugly black almost the moment I put them in the oil. This picture is disturbing. Like passing an accident on the highway. You want to look away, but you just can't.


I still had four more pieces left, but I was worried they were getting too soft. So I stuck them, already breaded, into the freezer while I dumped the burnt oil and heated up fresh. I don't know if that little bit of time in the freezer is what did the trick. Or maybe the cooking gods just lost interest in toying with me. For whatever reason, the last four pieces cooked perfectly. (Well, except for their un-diamondlike shape.)


May 5, 2011

Baked Apples wtih Amaretti Cookies


Today, my dessert was Baked Apples with Amaretti Cookies. I loved this recipe! They were so good. The recipe is quite simple to make. Core some apples, leaving the very bottom intact. Fill with a mixture of crushed amaretti cookies and soft butter. Sprinkle over some sugar, place in a baking dish, then pour over a mixture of water and white wine. Bake 45 minutes. When done, reduce the liquid to a syrup, and pour over the apples. Yum! Even without whipped cream or ice cream, they were so good. I'm very happy the recipe made 4, as tomorrow night we get to have them again.

May 6, 2011

Chilled Black Grape Pudding


Finding black grapes was a little challenging but I got some from Chile. Fortunately, they were seedless.

I used the food processor to puree the pound of grapes, resulting in an absolutely beautiful color.


The color got even prettier after adding flour and sugar to the raw puree.


With cooking, the color became a rich, dark eggplant hue.


I have these lovely old-fashioned champagne glasses so I decided to use them instead of little bowls.


Garnished with unsweetened, whipped cream the pudding is complete, refreshing and delicious. Some people stirred their cream into the pudding, which made it like a mousse but I liked the clear flavor of the grape undiluted.

This dessert is very easy and truly a show piece.
Thanks again, Marcella.

May 7, 2011

Macerated Oranges

I happened to make this on one of our "triple digit" days last week. Yes, the temperatures were over 100. It was great timing, as this is a simple and refreshing dessert!


You just slice some oranges (I used Cara Cara for their bright color), squeeze on some freshly squeezed orange juice, lemon juice and add some sugar and lemon zest. Cover the platter with plastic wrap and chill for up to 24 hours. The juices and sugar will blend in the fridge, and you will have a sweet fruity burst of flavor. It is a great summer light dessert! I'll try little orange liquor next time.

May 8, 2011

Macedonia-Macerated Mixed Fresh Fruit

We serve fresh fruit in some form for every meal at our house. The reason for this is that Zachary, our son, decided as soon as he could speak, that vegetables were not something that he would eat willingly. After many years of battling this, the pediatrician and I decided that we would compensate for this by greatly increasing his fruit intake and making sure that he always had his vitamins. Over time he has added back some vegetables into his diet, but the habit of the fresh fruit has stayed.


I was so looking forward to this recipe, because I have never made fruit this way. I found this to be such a refreshing dessert for a very warm Saturday in May. It starts with freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice. You add in peeled apples, pears and bananas. You then can play with whatever fruits are seasonal. I added grapes, blueberries, and watermelon. I took the optional choice of adding Maraschino liqueur into the mix. This is then chilled for at least 4 hours. I added in strawberries at the end, mixed it well and then served.


The Maraschino liqueur was a great addition to this mix. I was expecting something cherry flavored, but it actually had flavors of honey and almond with a slight sweetness. I had to look it up to see how it is made and found out that it is made from Marasca cherries, but the pits are also used and that it what gives it the almond tones. Very nice. I have to say that I was not the only one confused by this liqueur. When Michael ordered this the first time from our liquor distributor, he actually sent Cherry liqueur. Michael had to send it back and set the guy straight. Luckily, we were able to get the right thing in time to make the recipe.

May 9, 2011

Mangoes and Strawberries in Sweet White Wine

Deborah is happy and more than willing to serve as Irene's taste tester for this dish.

Happy for the reason Irene isn't tasting it for herself. And happy to not only taste it, but to consume the entire bowl.


Deborah will be making this again in early August when the white peaches at Eckart's are ripe for the picking. And she will be serving it to Irene.


May 10, 2011

Black and White Macerated Grapes

A beautiful bowl of grapes is a delightful and refreshing finish to a summer meal.


Simplicity itself with just these - grapes, citrus, & sugar.


The black grapes are halved and seeded. The white grapes are left whole. The lemon is grated. The oranges are juiced. Mix all those together with granulated sugar. Toss, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 2 or 3 hours before serving.


We enjoyed this dessert as the perfect light finish to a dinner of Sweet and Sour Tuna Steaks, Trapani Style. That blog entry was Sept. 7th.


May 12, 2011

Stawberry Gelato


Today's recipe is Strawberry Gelato. I love gelato. While I love ice cream also, gelato usually tastes more intensely of the fresh fruit it's made from. This recipe definately follows that, so be sure and use flavorful, fresh strawberries.

I was really anxious to try this recipe because it only contains 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and no eggs. I'm used to making home-made ice cream and using a couple of cups of cream and 1/2 dz or so egg yolks. Not the most healthy thing to eat. This gelato was less rich than a heavy ice-cream, but as I mentioned earlier, it's all about the flavor of strawberries.

For this recipe, you puree strawberries and sugar in a food processor, then add some water and puree more. You then mix this in with lightly whipped heavy cream, and then process in your ice-cream maker. It couldn't get any easier than this! I can't wait to try this with other berries also.

May 14, 2011

Black Grape Gelato


Wow - how can we be done desserts already? I don't know how it happened but her eit is, my last dessert recipe - Black Grape Gelato.

I have eaten my weight in gelato during various trips to Italy, in fact, one of the first things we do once we settled is to pop into a gelato shop. I don't care if it is 6 am or midnight, if I can find a shop that is open I shall indulge.

Interestingly enough, in all of those cones and cups over the years I have never asked for any grape to be added. I've had all sorts of flavours but never grape. I was able to correct that with this recipe (although not having a proper commercial gelato maker I shall have to try some out when I get to Italy this fall to compare).

This recipe is simple - sugar, water, grapes, whipping cream and that is it.

The sugar and water is combined to make a simple syrup. Pureed grapes are mixed in. The cream is then slightly whipped and added to the grape and syrup mixture. Into the ice cream freezer it is poured and not long after you're enjoying a wonderful treat!


Believe it or not, after this I only have one recipe left: Broccoli and Ricotta Conza . . .

May 15, 2011

Banana and Rum Gelato

This week’s recipe sounded wonderful and I was so excited to try it. I thought this would give me an excuse to buy an ice cream maker, because that is one gadget that I don’t have in my kitchen. I was talking to my sister and mentioned the recipe and she said that she had an ice cream maker that she had gotten as a wedding present (her oldest daughter is 12) and only used once, but I was welcome to borrow it. I thought this would be a great way to see if I would like using one of the machines and then I could buy one if I thought I would use it frequently.

Becky gave me the machine last night and said that all I had to do was freeze the inner container, put in the mix, and turn on the machine and I would have gelato. Well, the unfortunate thing about wedding presents that are not used frequently, is that sometimes all of the pieces aren’t together when you need to use them. Since I had never used one of these before I thought everything was great. Process about 1 pound of ripe bananas then add in sugar, milk and rum. Mix well and then put into the ice cream maker. Turn on and then wait. The machine started turning and I thought this is great. In about 10 minutes I noticed that the outer rim of the mixture was freezing onto the container. At that point the middle of the mixture was still room temperature. That is when I started worrying. To make a long story short, I ended up manually being the paddle for the rest of the churning time. It seems that these machines won’t work right without one. Imagine that!


The good news is that even though the gelato was not as firm as I think it should have been, due to the machine malfunction, the flavor was wonderful. Zachary and I couldn’t wait until dessert to try it, so we actually had it for a late afternoon snack and we both loved it. Now, I will be looking for a machine to buy and trust me I will be checking for the paddle before I take it out of the store!

May 16, 2011

Egg Custard Gelato / The Chimney Sweep's Gelato

Ingredients: Egg yolks, sugar, milk, orange peel and a tablespoon of Grand Marnier.

The base for this recipe comes together easier than other ice cream recipes I have made. The hardest part was waiting for the mixture to cool completely before freezing. This custard has a lighter texture than most homemade frozen custards. It is sweet but not too sweet with a nice orange undertone. I was surprised how creamy it turned out since it was made with whole milk. I found this to be tasty and refreshing.

Egg Custard Gelato

The Chimney’s Sweep Gelato is a way to enhance an already delicious treat. A tablespoon of Bourbon is poured over a scoop of egg custard gelato. Then espresso is sprinkled on top. I could not eat this recipe so I enlisted Deborah as my taste tester. “This is really good” she said as her eyes rolled. “You have to taste it. Just stick your finger in it. That won’t do any harm.” Deborah can be very persuasive.

I have started a count down until I can make this again. I cannot wait to enjoy my own bowl. I love and miss Bourbon and espresso. Having both swirl and mingle with the creamy gelato was delightful. That was the best pinky fingertip sized taste I’ve ever had.

The Chimney Sweep's Gelato

May 17, 2011


Do you remember the slushes you badgered your dad into buying for you at the carnival when you were a kid? You know the ones. Colors not found in nature. Syrupy sweet flavors created by science instead of real fruit.

And although in the title for this recipe Marcella describes Sgroppino as a 'slush', it might have a few subtle differences.


Real strawberries, real lemons, real whipping cream, real cane sugar - and an ingredient they didn't offer at the carnival - that fresh bright sparkling wine we all love, Prosecco.


Even though this is a three step recipe, it is so simple. You can make the lemon ice cream ahead of time. You can puree the strawberries ahead of time. Then you bring it all together in just a few minutes. If you want to be flashy and show off a bit, do it tableside as your Venetian waiter would.


May 19, 2011

Granita-Coffee Ice with Whipped Cream


Marcella says that this treat used to be very popular in Italian cafes, but is now rarely found She talks about how it's crystals melt on your tongue. Well, you've got to try this one, because the texture was amazing.

You make stong espresso. One thing I will warn you about is be careful not to make it so strong that it becomes very bitter, like mine did. You then mix in a little sugar, pour it into an ice cube tray, and freeze. When ready to serve, you place the frozen cubes in a food processor and blend away. You end up with this almost dry crystally texture that is so refreshing. Oh, I forgot, before serving you top with a little whipped cream.

I loved the texture of this so much I'm wondering if you will end up with the same texture with citrus juice. Can't wait to try it with lemons and oranges.

My last dessert recipe from the book, and only two more recipes to go. Wow, it's been over a year since we started this project...

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Pomodori e Vino in the Desserts category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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