Sunday, December 07, 2008

Biscotti di Mandorle al Cuor di cioccolato

Almond Cookies filled with Chocolate truffles
Yield: 35 cookies

For the cookie:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 8 oz almond paste
  • 1 & 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 organic orange
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Extra sugar for decoration
For the Ganache:
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto liquor

To make the cookie:

Preheat oven to 325° F . Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Combine almond paste, butter, orange zest and sugar in mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until the mixture is soft and fluffy

Add egg whites and almond extract. Beat until combined.
Mix in flour mixture on low speed until just incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

With a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, scoop enough dough to form a 1-inch ball.
Roll balls in the extra sugar. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between for spreading. Press thumb (or the back of a wooden spoon) gently on top of each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies are light golden. Remove cookie to wire rack to cool.

To make the ganache:

Chop the chocolate in small pieces and place it in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream in a medium sized pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.

Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 1 minutes.
Stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the liqueur.

To assemble the cookies:

Fill the cookies with the warm ganache.

Let the ganache set at room temperature for several hours before serving the cookies.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Carnevale is here!

As much as I try to limit the consumption of fried pastries from my daily diet, when Carnevale arrives, I don’t even make an effort. I crave for them and indulge myself with all the flavors I enjoyed during my childhood. After all, they are once a year holiday treats and, as a popular Italian proverb says, “In Carnival, everything goes” (“A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale”).
Last year I talked about Carnevale in Italy and shared my recipe for Chiachiere. This year I want to share with you my recipe for Castagnole.

Castagnole (Puffy Fritters)

These Carnival treats got their name because of their castagna (chestnut) shape and size. I prefer to eat them once they cool down, as they melt in your mouth, bringing out the delicate flavor of the anise liquor.

• 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 3 eggs
• 1 tablespoon anise seeds
• 1 tablespoon anise liquor
• ½ cup milk
• ½ cup oil for frying (olive or canola)
• Confectioners’ sugar to dust the castagnoli

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add eggs, liqueur, seeds, milk and oil and mix until you have a soft, smooth dough.

Wrap with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Cutting a piece of dough at a time, roll the dough to form 1-inch thick cylinders. Cut the cylinders in pieces the size of a large cherry and roll them between your hands to form little balls. To fry the castagnole, heat the oil to 360ºF.

Fry the castagnoli until golden brown. Place on a plate covered with paper towels.

Dust them with confectioners’ sugar and serve at room temperature.