Tag Archives: dessert

Chocolate hazelnut biscotti

10 Mar

You don’t have to be a great baker to make respectable biscotti. I’m living proof of that. Besides, it rained all day today. I needed something to do.

In a large mixing bowl add the following: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (a full teaspoon is fine), and a pinch of sea salt.

In a separate mixing bowl add 4 large eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon brandy. Mix until the eggs are somewhat thickened.

Gradually add the egg mixture into the dry mix and incorporate.

Add 1 cup of lightly crushed toasted hazelnuts and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and mix until fully incorporated. (If the mix seems too dry add a little milk; I used a couple tablespoons.)

Divide the mix in half. On a floured surface take each half of the batch and form a log around a foot or more long and three or so inches wide.

Place both logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with egg wash. Place in the oven preheated to 350 degrees F for around 25 minutes, rotating the sheet at the halfway mark.

Remove the logs and let them cool for 15 minutes.

With a serrated blade cut the logs into 1- to 1 1/2-inch slices.

Place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for around 10-15 minutes, then turn the slices over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. (Ten minutes each side should be fine for 1-inch pieces; thicker slices like these will take longer.)

When the pieces are nice and firm to the touch they’re done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly, then place in an airtight container. The biscotti will last a couple weeks.

It’s always best to wait a couple days before eating the biscotti. No matter how many different kinds I’ve made over the years, the flavors always are enhanced over time. I usually wait at least 48 hours before serving. This batch is for Saturday night, after the osso buco I’ve got planned (today’s Thursday, by the way).

See, you’ve got plenty of time.

Candied orange in syrup

24 Nov

We’re deep in Thanksgiving prep mode around here (not one but two turkeys, along with, well, all the things that go with two turkeys) and so I’ll have to be quick.

These oranges are the first thing I got done today. I like them all by themselves but they’re most useful for accompanying desserts, like a slice of pie or cake or even ice cream or gelato, even biscotti.

They take no time at all. You should make them.

Unless you’ve got something against oranges. In which case, we’ve got nothing to talk about.

These are extra large navel oranges. I’ve used two here. If you’re using smaller oranges then use three instead; that way you won’t need to alter the other ingredients.

First cut off the ends, then slice the oranges like so.

In a pan place 2 cups sugar, 3 whole cloves, 6 all-spice berries, and a cinnamon stick.

Add four cups of water and turn the heat to medium high.

When it comes to a boil add the orange slices and turn the heat down to medium or lower. Allow to boil for around an hour. (Rotate the orange slices from time to time so that they cook evenly.)

Turn off the heat and allow to cool. These cooked for exactly one hour. The syrup was tasty and thickened just slightly, the way I like it. The rind had softened nicely. If the rind is still too tough boil a little longer.

I’ll be serving them with Thanksgiving Day desserts this week—if we still have room.

You can also put them in a jar with the syrup and keep in the fridge for a while.

If we don’t talk before, have a real good holiday.

Leftover panettone pudding

18 Jan

It takes a while for the holidays to become a memory around here. But this “pudding” might finally have done the trick.

How many boxes of panettone came my way this Christmas I really can’t say, but I know that this is the last one because I repurposed it last night by turning it into a dessert. I can’t take credit for the idea, only the execution. My Associate devised the notion of panettone bread pudding one Christmas a few years back, and a fine idea it was. If you have a panettone laying around, I’d suggest you give this pudding a try. It’s even worth going out and buying one expressly for this purpose.

Any panettone will do, though this is the classic version, with raisins and candied fruit. Just start ripping away at it and you’re on your way.

Break up the panettone entirely, layer it onto a baking sheet and let it toast in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes.

Like so.

I’m afraid you’re on your own regarding exact measurements; after all, we’re just hacking around here, and the amount of panettone you use will determine what needs to be added to it. But the basic idea is this: mix together some eggs (two here), a combination of heavy cream and milk (I don’t know, maybe a cup and a half total in this batch, maybe more), some vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a touch of nutmeg. Or anything else you want to add, come to think of it; playing around is highly encouraged.

Once the eggs and cream mix is fully blended then just add in the toasted panettone until fully incorporated. The bread should completely absorb the liquid, and if the mix seems dry then add more milk or cream because it should be moist not dry.

That’s the completed mixture right there.

My spring-form pans were too large for this batch and so I buttered the hell out of this number, and floured it too, in order to make sure it’d slide out easily after cooking. Then it went into the oven, preheated to 350 degrees F, and around 45 minutes later it was done.

It slid out of the pan just fine, by the way. And there’s only one piece left, so if you’re interested I’d suggest you hurry over here right away.

Olive oil orange cake

11 Jan

I liked this cake way before ever tasting it. But then I’m big on subtle (often citrus-based) endings to a meal, especially a big old multi-courser. Which, as it happens, is the kind of meal that I was asked to provide an ending to on this occasion.

The recipe isn’t mine. It’s from a woman named Deborah Mele, who authors the blog Italian Food Forever (yes, Joe, it had to be Italian!). I don’t know the woman, but anybody who’d put together a cake like this chewy orange beauty is okay by me.

The whole recipe is reprinted below but basically you start by lopping off the end pieces of two seedless oranges.

Chop both oranges up into small hunks — yes, the peel and all — and then quickly pulse in a food processor. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and process some more, but don’t let it get too smooth. You want there to be texture; to me, that’s what makes this cake so good. I mean, it’d taste the same if the oranges were completely smooth, but without the chewiness of the pulp and peel, well, let’s just say that I’d be a lot less interested.

As I said, the exact recipe is below, but here you’ve got your processed oranges, flour mixture, and also your eggs-and-sugar combo.

Fold everything together gently, and gradually (not all at once), until thoroughly combined.

Pour the mix into a buttered and floured 9-inch spring-form pan and place in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees F.

The recipe called for 50 to 60 minutes cooking time, and this took exactly 50 minutes. Go figure.

Allow the cake to cool, dust with powdered sugar and have at it.

Oh, and make sure to save a slice or two. It tastes even better the next day.

Olive Oil Orange Cake
Original recipe: Italian Food Forever

2 small seedless oranges
1/3 cup olive oil (Despite instructions not to do so I used extra virgin)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I only used a cup)

To garnish:
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring-form pan.
Cut off a small slice of the thicker top and bottom parts of each orange, discard these pieces, and then cut the rest of the oranges (flesh and peel) into chunks.
Place them in a food processor and puree until blended but with some texture left.
Add the oil to the oranges and pulse until blended.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy and then slowly add in the sugar.
Begin to add the egg mixture in three parts alternating with the orange mixture just stirring until combined. (Be careful not to over mix which will deflate the eggs and create a dense cake.)
Pour the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or just until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool before slicing.

Orange ricotta torte

16 Nov

The Lemon Ricotta Torte recipe that I use all the time just couldn’t be any simpler.

But I may have just made it better. By switching to orange instead.

Finely chop 1/2 cup of candied orange rind.

In a large bowl mix together 3 pounds of ricotta, 3 extra large eggs, 1 cup of sugar, the orange rind, the zest of one orange, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan and fill it with the ricotta mixture.

Smooth the top as best you can, then place the pan in an oven that’s been preheated to 400 degrees F. In about an hour check to see if the top has browned a bit and that the torte has stiffened. If it’s still very jiggly and hasn’t browned yet keep checking for doneness every 10 minutes or so.

This torte took around 80 minutes to cook. Once it cooled thoroughly I let it sit in the fridge for three or four hours before taking it out and allowing it to come up to room temperature before serving.

And in about 20 minutes I watched eight people polish off the whole thing.

Beth’s famous pie crust

1 May

It’s as good as it looks, yeah.

Nobody — and I mean nobody — makes a pie crust like Beth, Queen of Bakers. Nobody that I’ve met, anyway. And I’ve met a few. There’s a reason why people are always asking for her recipe. I’d ask for it myself if I didn’t have my friend Beth around to make it for me every once in a while.

Just look at this thing! Is it the most gorgeous pie that you have ever laid eyes on or what? Inside there is ground pork and beef and lamb and lots of spices. A wonderful filling, to be sure, made expertly by my closest associate. But let’s not kid ourselves. In the matter of pies, be they savory or sweet or anywhere in between, Crust Rules! We don’t call our Bethie “Queen” for nothing.

So swell a pal is she that, whenever I am in the vicinity on pie-baking days, Beth makes sure to prepare plenty of extra dough for use in other things. My favorite extra has to be her empanadas, the tastiest, flakiest ones on this Earth. Every year she and her no-good companion Tom spend a week visiting. Lots of cooking goes on at the house, contributing to a dizzying variety of leftovers. Perfect fillings for perfect half-moon-shaped pastries. Beth freezes them for me, to enjoy after she has gone. I love this woman.

I emailed Beth a couple days back to tell her that I might be down for a visit soon. When the subject of food came up, as it so often does, I asked if she would mind sharing her recipe here. She said that would be okay.

Lucky for you.

Beth’s Famous Pie Crust
Yields one 9-inch crust

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp buttermilk powder (optional, but I prefer using it)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled in the freezer to make it super cold
4 tbsp rendered leaf lard, cut into small pieces and chilled (also in the freezer)
3-5 tbsp cold water with 1 tsp chilled cider vinegar added (Note: mix and chill a little extra in case you need more; chill these in the freezer also)

In a large bowl combine until evenly distributed: flour, salt, baking powder, and buttermilk powder (if using).

With a pastry cutter, cut in half of the shortening into the flour mix; then cut in the other half. The dough should look like clumpy sand. From this point on, it’s very important to handle the dough gently to avoid winding up with a tough crust.

Add the chilled water/vinegar one tbsp. at a time, mixing very gently with a fork.

When mixture will hold together into a ball (but is not wet) it is done.

Gather it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk.

Chill before rolling out and preparing the pie of your choice.

When pie is finished, make sure to give a little taste to my friend Meatball. He loves the stuff.

Patsy’s lemon ricotta torte

13 Apr

I remember exactly the time that I first made this torte. It was December 2011, when a few friends and I decided to celebrate Sinatra’s birthday by preparing a dinner consisting of many of his favorite foods. (In case you missed the dinner, here’s the link to it). The recipe for the torte, like all the other ones from that evening, is old school. They were based on recipes from the “Patsy’s Cookbook,” the reason for which is made abundantly clear in that birthday dinner link I just mentioned.

I have made this simple, old world torte a couple of times since then, largely because it’s so preposterously simple. This one was in the oven at 6:30 in the morning the other day — before I’d even finished brewing a pot of coffee.

In a large bowl, mix together 3 pounds of ricotta, 3 extra large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, the zest from one lemon, and one cup of sugar (the Patsy’s recipe calls for 1 2/3 cups of sugar, but I think that’s too much).

Butter and flour a nine-inch spring form pan.

Pour the ricotta mixture into the pan and smooth the top evenly, then place into an oven that’s been preheated to 400 degrees F., for 55 minutes.

This torte took around 65 minutes to bake. At the 55-minute mark the top had not browned at all and the entire cake was jiggling pretty good. It was still loose when I took it out of the oven ten minutes later, but it firmed up nicely while cooling. Once cooled, I covered the torte while it was still in the pan and refrigerated it for a few hours, then took it out of the fridge, removed it from the pan, and let the torte come to room temperature again.

All that’s left now is to sprinkle with some confectioners sugar and serve.

I said it was easy, didn’t I. Pretty delicious too.

I can see why Frank liked it so much.