Delicious Italian desserts
Lemon Wafer Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen A superb accompaniment to fresh fruit, ice cream and sorbet, these simple but delicious biscotti al limone can also be sandwiched together with pastry cream or jam for a fancy treat. After one nibble of this dessert favorite from Mary Ann Esposito's five-ingredient Italian cookbook Ciao Italia, you'll want to keep a batch of these citrus-kissed wafers handy. Ingredients: 3 large eggs 1 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice 1-1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour Grated zest of 1 large Meyer lemon Pinch of fine sea salt Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper. Set aside. 2. In a bowl, beat together eggs, lemon juice and sugar until pale and thick. Don't rush this process. The eggs should have lots of air beaten into them and fall off the beaters in ribbons. 3. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour over the egg mixture and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Gradually fold in the remaining flour and then zest and salt. 4. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spacing about 1-inch apart. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Vanilla
Serves 4 Panna cotta is a simple, yet heavenly, dessert that translates quite accurately to cooked cream. As Mary Ann Esposito states in her cookbook Ciao Italia, "This dessert is not for the faint of heart dieter." It can be, however, a special occasion treat that will leave a mouthwatering memory on your palate. The following recipe is featured in Ciao Italia. Ingredients: 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk, room temperature 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 1 (2-inch) long piece of vanilla bean 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 2 cups heavy cream Directions: 1. Grease 4 (1/4-cup) ramekins lightly with butter and set aside. 2. Pour buttermilk into a small bowl, sprinkle on the gelatin and stir to dissolve. Set aside. 3. With a small knife, split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into a medium saucepan. Off the heat, add vanilla bean pod, cream and sugar. Stir in buttermilk mixture. 4. Place pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is just under a boil. Remove from heat and remove vanilla bean pod. 5. Pour mixture into ramekins. Place them on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 5 hours or overnight. 6. To serve, run a butter knife around the inside edge of the ramekins, or dip the bottom of each one quickly in hot water. Invert panna cotta onto individual dessert plates and serve at once. Serve with fresh fruit or rich chocolate sauce.
Crepes with Chocolate and Walnuts
Makes 12 and serves 6 Palacinke, or crepes, become a decadent dessert when filled with chocolate and nuts. This elaborate Italian dessert recipe is from Lidia's Italy, lovingly written by five time cookbook author, restaurant owner and TV show host Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. For the palacinke: 2 eggs 2 cups water 1 tablespoon dark rum 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/3 teaspoon salt 2 cups all purpose flour 8 tablespoons melted butter or more Finely grated zest of 2 lemons For serving: 10 ounces excellent bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (12 ounces, or more, for extreme chocolate lovers) 1-1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped 1 cup heavy cream, chilled (plus sugar to taste) Recommended equipment: A small ladle (1/3 cup volume or slightly larger) A 7-inch crepe pan or a non-stick skillet, 7-inches wide on the bottom Directions: 1. To make the palacinke, or crepe, batter, whisk together the eggs, water, rum, vanilla, sugar and salt in a large bowl, until well blended. Sift the flour on top, a bit at a time, whisking each addition until smooth. 2. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons of the melted butter, whisking until the batter has slightly thickened, with the consistency of melted ice cream. Finally, whisk in the lemon zest. Put the remaining 4 tablespoons of melted butter in a small cup and keep it warm. 3. Break or chop the chocolate into small pieces and put them a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth and keep it warm, in the water, off the heat. 4. Set the crepe pan or skillet over moderate-high heat until quite hot. Pour in a couple tablespoons of butter, quickly swirl it all over the pan bottom, then pour excess butter back into the cup, leaving the bottom lightly coated with sizzling butter. (If the butter doesn't sizzle, heat the pan longer before adding the batter). Immediately ladle in a scant 1/3 cup of batter, tilt and swirl so it coats the bottom, and set the pan on the burner. 5. Lower the heat to medium and cook the palacinka, or crepe, for a little less than a minute, until the underside is lightly browned in a lacy pattern. Flip it over with a spatula and fry for a half minute or longer, until the second side is lightly browned, then remove it to a warm platter. Heat the empty pan briefly, then rapidly coat it with butter, fill it with batter and cook another palacinka, or crepe. Repeat the sequence until all the batter is used up. Keep warm. 6. Whip the heavy cream, unsweetened or with sugar to taste, to soft peaks. Stir the melted chocolate and reheat it if necessary so it is smooth and warm. 7. To fill, take one palacinka, or crepe, off the stack and place it with its lacy-patterned side down. Spoon a generous tablespoon (or more) warm chocolate in the center of the pancake and spread chocolate, leaving an inch wide border on the palacinka, or crepe, uncoated. Scatter a spoonful of chopped walnuts on the chocolate layer then fold the round in half, hiding the fillings, and fold again into a plump quarter-round. Repeat until all palacinke, or crepes, are filled. 8. For each serving, place two rounds, overlapping, on a dessert plate, heap some cream on top, scatter some nuts on top of the cream and drizzle warm chocolate in streaks and squiggles over the palacinke, or crepes, and the plate.