Tag Archives: Amaretto liqueur

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.

Preparation time: 1h+15min.      Cooking time: 45 min.      Servings: 8

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

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

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


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.

Preparation time: 2 hrs +40 min.    Cooking time: 45 min.  Servings : 8

Miascia fetta

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

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 




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