Tag Archives: Amaretti cookies

Torta di Zucca (Pumpkin Pie)

27 Nov

Pumpkin pie, or torta di zucca, is a typical American dessert, often prepared to celebrate Thanksgiving. When I first ate it in the US, I thought how I might add a bit of Italy to this recipe. The recipe I propose is my creation, with some additional, typically Italian ingredients in the filling, such as amaretti and amaretto di Saronno liquor, while the crust is prepared with pasta brisee instead of American pie dough. The taste of amaretti goes very well with that of the pumpkin making this dessert doubly delicious (I also use this combination of ingredients with pasta, in the pasta con zucca e amaretti recipe. Pumpkin pie is traditionally served with sweetened whipped cream, but I personally prefer to eat it plain, to fully enjoy the pumpkin’s distinctive flavor. Every time I serve it, it’s really a big success, something a bit different to savor.

TORTA DI ZUCCA (PUMPKIN PIE)
Preparation time: 1h+15min.      Cooking time: 45 min.      Servings: 8
Torta-di-Zucca

INGREDIENTS
Pasta Briseè (Briseè crust)
250 g  (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
120 g (¼ cup) chilled butter
1 egg yolk
¼ teaspoon salt
60 ml cold water

Filling
450 g (1 heaping cup) mushed pumpkin
250 ml (1 heaping cup) fresh cream
50 g (¼ cup) brown sugar
100 g (½ cup) white sugar
10 amaretti cookies, finely crushed
100 ml  (½ cup) Amaretto di Saronno liquor
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8  teaspoon cloves
2 slightly beaten eggs

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 190°C (425°F)
1. Pasta brisee (brisee crust). In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time.  Add the egg yolk until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
2. Filling. To cook pumpkin see risotto di zucca. In a large bowl mix until well blended pumpkin, cream, brown sugar, white sugar, amaretti cookies, Amaretto liqueur, spices and eggs
3. Once the dough has rested, flatten it out on a lightly floured board, then transfer to a 25 cm (9 in) ceramic or glass pie or tart baking dish.  Gently pat the pastry dough in the pan to 4 mm (less than ¼ in) thickness, to line the bottom and sides.  The edge should have a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 5 mm. Prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork (four or five times is sufficient)
4. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 15 min. at 190°C (425°F), then reduce the temperature to 170°C (350°F), bake about 30-35 min. longer until an inserted knife comes out clean
5. Cool on a racket and serve with sweetened whipped cream .  -Paola

Advertisements

Miascia, Lake Como Cake

3 Nov

Today I would like to present miascia (mee-AH-sha), a typical cake from my beautiful home, Lake Como. It is one of the traditional peasants’ sweets prepared with stale bread (“pan poss” in the local dialect) with the addition of dried and fresh fruit. Most of the farmers’ cakes are prepared with dried fruit or fresh fruit (both in this recipe) to compensate the lack of sugar that, in the past, was very common among the less well off. The fruit actually adds minerals and vitamins that sugar doesn’t have, making this cake also nutritious. In the past miascia could even replace a full meal or be served on very special occasions such as parties or celebrations. Today it is enjoyed as a great dessert accompanied by a fortified wine or vanilla ice cream. It is also a tasty snack, going well with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

MIASCIA, LAKE COMO CAKE
Preparation time: 2 hrs +40 min.    Cooking time: 45 min.  Servings : 8

Miascia fetta

INGREDIENTS
500 g (18 oz) stale bread
15 amaretti cookies, crushed
500 ml (about 2 cups) whole milk
120 ml (½ cup) Amaretto di Saronno liqueur
50 g (⅓  cup) toasted pine nuts
150 g (about 1 cup) raisins
2 eggs
70 g (⅓  cup) sugar
2 apples
2 pears
1 lemon, grated rind
50 g (about ¼ cup) butter, melted
1 tablespoon flour 00

DIRECTIONS
1. Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over low heat for a few minutes until golden brown. Cool and set aside
2. Cut the bread into small pieces and soak in a large bowl with milk and Amaretto liqueur. Let stand for about 2 hours. Add more milk if the bread is not soaked enough. The amount of milk depends on the type of bread used and how stale it is
3. Preheat oven to 190°C – 350°F
4 . Cut apples and pears into thin slices and add to the bread with the remaining ingredients (pine nuts, amaretti, raisins, eggs, sugar, lemon peel, butter and flour). Mix all ingredients together well
5. Wet and wring out some baking paper and line a baking pan (25 cm diameter, 10 inch) with it to make prevent the cake from sticking. Wetting the paper allows it to follow the sides of the pan better
6. Pour the batter into the pan and cook for 15 min. After this time, lower the temperature to 150°C and bake for an additional 30 minutes until golden.
7. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for about 15 minutes. While your cake is still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy.

Note: There are a few variations of this classic recipe in which a small amount of corn flour (2 tablespoons ) is added . The type of bread used is very important both for the taste and the quantity of milk. You can also use whole wheat bread with cereals , as was used in the past.  In any case, the bread should be a hearty, baker’s bread, not an industrially-produced sliced bread. The result will be a very sweet, delicious and healthy treat! – Paola 

 

 

 

Pasta con Zucca e Amaretti (Pasta with Pumpkin and Amaretti)

19 Oct

It is pumpkin season! Pumpkin is an autumn vegetable, very tasty and suitable for the preparation of a variety of recipes This recipe for pasta with pumpkin and amaretti cookies is a perfect, colorful dish on a cold and gray day. Amaretti refer to the almond flavored macaroons, crispy and crunchy, which are traditionally from Saronno, a small city in Lombardy between Como and Milan. The taste of the pasta blends well with the sweetness of pumpkin, the addition of sage gives a fragrant aroma . The flavor is unique and special; it definitely satisfies the taste of those people who love combining sweet and savory foods. I love this recipe because it reminds me so much of my childhood. In fact, this recipe is part of my family’s culinary tradition and goes back to my great-grandmother. Actually, I’ve never eaten it in any restaurant nor have I even seen it on the menu, so this is a true this is an exclusive for my readers. The pumpkin that I use is the “zucca mantovana” (Cucurbita maxima, Kabocha). It takes its name from Mantua (Mantova), a city in Lombardy where it grows in abundance because the soil is particularly suited to this vegetable. Its pulp is tender and very sweet, with its flavor somewhere between sweet potato and chestnut, with an almost nutty taste.

PASTA CON ZUCCA E AMARETTI (PASTA WITH PUMPKIN AND AMARETTI COOKIES)
Preparation time: 30 min.        Cooking time: 20 min.            Servings: 4

Pasta con Zucca e Amaretti

INGREDIENTS
1350 g (3 lbs) fresh pumpkin (about 260 g, or 2 cups, mashed)
340 g (12 0z) penne
18 finely crushed amaretti
100 g (7 tablespoons) butter
4-5 sage leaves
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch of cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut pumpkin into 4 pieces, remove seeds and strings. Wash in water. Bake pumpkin at 200 °C -400 °F (see pumpkin risotto‎‎) or steam. While it is still warm, remove the skin and mash into puree
2. Bring approx. 3 liters of salted water to a boil, cook pasta for about 10-11 minutes until al dente (read the cooking time on the package)
3. While pasta is cooking, melt half the butter in a saucepan, add pumpkin and 16 crushed amaretti, nutmeg and cinnamon. Season with salt. Add a few tablespoons of the cooking water to make the pumpkin puree creamier
4. Melt the remaining butter in a pan with the sage to flavor the butter. If you prefer you can remove the sage, however I leave it because I really like its intense flavor
5. Drain and transfer the pasta to the pan, stir gently and add the sage-flavored butter. Transfer onto a serving plate and garnish with crumbs from 2-3 crushed amaretti, Parmesan cheese and pepper to taste.

Note: You can use any type of short pasta such as macaroni , mezze penne , garganelli, tortiglioni and so on. You can substitute “zucca mantovana” with butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata).  – Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn

Crostata di Pesche Noci (Nectarin Tart)

14 Aug

The nectarine tart is a variation of a classic jam tart. It is a flavorful summertime dessert, prepared with pasta frolla and fresh nectarines (a type of peaches), which can be substituted with canned peaches during winter, but this will of course alter the tart’s taste and aroma! Peaches are, in fact, typical summer fruits, juicy and rich in water, therefore perfect for a summer diet! Peaches are highly satiating, keep hunger at bay for longer periods, so they are a good choice to incorporate into a weight-loss diet. The addition of a few crushed amaretti cookies gives a delicious flavor to this dessert. The almond taste of amaretti blends well with the sweet flavor and fragrant aroma of peaches. This peach tart is a perfect finale for any meal, from an casual picnic to a formal dinner.  It is delicious all by itself, but it can also be made even more enticing by adding a scoop of homemade gelato alla crema . In Italy we commonly enjoy these simple fruit tarts for breakfast or as a snack (with far fewer hydrogenated fats and processed sugars than industrially-produced breakfast foods and snacks), and they a true delight for kids and adults!


CROSTATA DI PESCHE NOCI (NECTARINE TART)
Preparation time: 1 ½ hrs   Baking time: 35-40 minutes  Servings: 6-8

Crostata di Pesche

INGREDIENTS
Pasta frolla (see basic recipe pasta frolla )
3 large nectarines
100 g (1 cup) crushed amaretti
4 tablespoons sugar
Juice of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 170°C-180°C
Prepare the pastry according to the basic recipe
1.While the pasta frolla is resting, wash the peaches under running water. Cut into slices with a thickness of 5 mm (2 inch). In a large bowl mix peaches, sugar and lemon juice, taking care not to break the peaches. Set aside
2. Coarsely crush the amaretti cookies. Set aside
5. Once the dough has rested, roll the dough (4-5 mm thick, 2 inch) to cover the bottom of a ceramic baking dish, 25 cm (10 inch) in diameter. The dough around the edge should be slightly thicker, about 5-6 mm (2 inch). Prick bottom of dough with the tines of a fork (four or five times is enough). Sprinkle the crushed amaretti cookies evenly over the dough and cover with peaches in a circular pattern or as you prefer
6. Bake the tart until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool on a rack.  It is good fresh, but you can also enjoy it next day if stored in a ventilated container for sweets.

Note: Nectarines are smooth-skinned peaches. When you buy them, make sure that they are ripe: soft to the touch (but not mushy), fragrant and with an intense color. Paola

%d bloggers like this: