Need some dessert revelation for Christmas? Why not go the Italian way?
Tiramisù could be defined as THE Italian dessert, known the world over for its creamy texture and comforting flavor. Its origin is mysterious and is motive for many disputes amongst different northern Italian regions that claim the invention of this classic. Tiramisù in Italian means “Raise me up”, probably referring to the highly nutritious ingredients that make it an energetic food. More malicious theories believe it has a sexual connotation that refers to it being an aphrodisiac dish. Energy food or aphrodisiac, to us it remains a favorite, especially for its simplicity in the making. A few simple ingredients and little skills needed. Make sure to use fresh eggs from a trusted source, as they will be served uncooked. Get out your spatula and let the show begin!
Watch the recipe in a short video: https://vimeo.com/195761067
Lady finger cookies, ¼ pound
Coffee, 1 cup
Eggs, 4 medium
Powdered sugar, 2 ¼ ounces
Mascarpone, 1 pound
Bitter cocoa powder, 2 ounces
Red berries, as a garnish
In a casserole, display the cookies to form a layer. Pour over coffee and set aside. Separate egg yolks from egg whites in two bowls. Add the sugar to the yolks and mix until smooth, add the mascarpone and mix until smooth. On the side beat the whites until stiff. Fold whites into the mascarpone cream, gently, trying not to loose the fluffiness. Pour the mixture in the casserole to cover cookies. Sift the cocoa powder over the whole surface. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Serve slices garnished with berries.
If you feel overwhelmed by the Christmas shopping craze, a gift made with your own hands can be a very special and unique way to show your love. This year why not make orange jam? It’s the peak of the season and the oranges are as juicy, sweet and ripe as it gets. Presented in a glass jar of your choice with a handmade decoration it will unmistakably win your loved ones over.
Oranges, 4 pounds
Brown sugar, 2 pounds
Fresh Ginger, 1 tablespoon
Cardamom, 2 pods
Peal oranges, clean trying to discard as much of the white part as possible, as this is what makes the jam more bitter. Keep the peel of an orange and boil in a pot of water for 5 minutes (helps take bitterness away).
In a large pot bring to boil the orange pulp, sugar, ginger, spices and chopped orange peel. Cook over a medium to low heat for about 40 minutes. Take out the cardamom and cloves and let the jam cool a little. With an electric blender, blend the jam to as fine as you prefer it. We like ours to stay a little chunky, so we just give it a quick blend for smoothness.
Sterilise your jars, ladle the boiling jam into the jars, screw the lids on and turn upside down.
Once cooled down you can play around with creating fun labels and decorating the jars with beautiful materials and strings.
At this time of the year grocery shops and bakeries all over Italy are filling with stacks of colorful boxes containing all kinds of Panettone, a rich, fluffy, naturally leavened bread cake filled with candied fruit and raisins. Originally from Milano, today it has become a tradition in the Piemonte region as well, where the classic recipe sees the addition of a hazelnut glaze topping. There is another very similar cake, Pandoro, originally from the town of Verona. It is baked into the shape of a star and is without raisins and fruit.
Panettone is a century old tradition, a delicious treat present on all Italian tables during the Christmas holidays. Apparently, the etymology is related to it being, essentially, a large sweet bread: “pane” in Italian means bread and “panettone” literally translates as “large bread”. But there’s also a legend saying that the inventor was a baker called Toni. The phrase “Pan de Toni” (bread of Toni) triggered the birth of the name.
The secret to any good panettone is the choice of ingredients. Renowned bakers use pure butter, fresh eggs, top quality flours and first choice fruit. The yeast must be rigorously a sour dough (called “madre”, mother) essential because it provides a very slow leavening. Some bakers have kept the same starter for centuries, passing it on from generation to generation.We recently visited Galup, a baker in north-western Italy that has been using the same yeast starter since 1922. This special colony of bacteria has survived a war, witnessed the advent of TV, computers and indeed quite a number of generations. Natural yeasts add complex flavors and unique nuances which commercial yeasts would never be able to achieve.
Panettone is delicious on its own, as a dessert or even as a snack, paired with a cup of tea or coffee. It even makes for a pretty incredible extra-decadent French toast! On Christmas Eve Italians serve it with a fortified wine custard called zabaione. Here is a quick and easy recipe:
Panettone e Zabaione
1 Panettone or Pandoro
4 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup fortified wine (Marsala or Port)
Start by making your zabaione cream. Separate egg yolks and mix with sugar. Once combined place your bowl in a pot with boiling water (bain-marie). Add the wine and whisk the cream until it thickens to a creamy texture. Slice the Panettone and serve with the zabaione on the side.