A recipe from Piemonte: Brasato al Barolo . . . A Perfect Holiday dish!

Holiday Dinner

I haven’t been very active on my blog lately and apologize for that. Many things have kept me occupied, however, I could not let the Holidays go by without thanking all of you for your support through my first year of blogging.

I shall also thank two very special bloggers, Meg at Meg Travels and Letizia at Dutch goes Italian for awarding me with the Blog of the Year 2012 Award. I am humbled and honored to be in such a great company . . . GRAZIE, GRAZIE, GRAZIE!!!

To celebrate my 1 year Anniversary, my Award, and the Holiday Season I want to share a recipe that I think you will love: Brasato al Barolo. A dish typical of the Piemonte region and perfect for a special occasion such as Christmas.

The beef is marinated in Italian Barolo wine for almost 24 hours then slow cooked in the same marinade for 3 more hours, the result is a rich dish full of flavor, elegant and earthy, comforting and intense all at the same time.

Barolo is a full-bodied Italian wine from the Nebbiolo grapes. It is quite expensive (especially in the US) so I often substitute Barolo with Nebbiolo, You will still have to pay around $20 for a bottle of Nebbiolo, however, for a special occasion, it is wort the expense.

You can read about my visit to the Marchesi di Barolo ‘s winery in the town of Barolo clicking on this link: A day in Barolo

I prepared Brasato al Barolo last week for a Holiday dinner with some dear friends, but the first time I cooked Brasato al Barolo was in 1982 when I invited my boyfriend to meet my parents. Although it was not my intention to – as they say in Italy –  “prendere l’uomo per la gola” (literally: take a man through his throat; meaning: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach), that man is today my husband of 26 years . . . I think he was impressed!

The Brasato al Barolo is typically served with a side of polenta, mashed potatoes or stewed pearl onions. For my Holiday dinner I served my Brasato with my mom’s version of mashed potatoes (simply boiled and mashed and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a lot of extra-virgin olive oil), sautéed broccoli rapini and cipolline all’aceto balsamico (pearl onions stewed in balsamic vinegar). My Holiday dinner turned into a two days cooking affair as I also served a primo piatto (first course) of rondelle (fresh pasta roll ups) spinach and ricotta with bechamel sauce. I also prepared pears cooked in red wine served with Sabayon sauce as dessert. And since I LOVE desserts, I made mini Panettone cakes covered in chocolate ganache and lastly chocolate-chestnut truffles!

Rondelle spinach and ricottaPere cotte al vinoTruffles and mini cakes

I promised that I will share all these recipes soon.

I would like to encourage you to read my previous posts on Italian Christmas’s  culture and traditions. You can learn about the fascinating Neapolitan Presepe (Crèche), the truth about the Feast of Seven Fish, and New Year’s Eve Italian traditions.  You can also add some traditional Neapolitan desserts to your table with my recipe for struffoli and mostaccioli.

Lastly, I would like to nominate three bloggers that I have being enjoying following, for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award:

Two Black Dogs

Our Italian Table

Writingfeemail’s Blog

Congratulations and thank you for such enjoyable blogs!

Please read the rules of the award at the bottom of this post.

Happy Holidays to all and don’t forget to keep the little angels of Sandy Hook Elementary School in your hearts throughout this Holiday Season.

Ricetta

Brasato al Barolo

Cosa serve (What you need)

2 pounds beef (shoulder, chuck or boneless short ribs)

1 bottle of Barolo or Nebbiolo

1  onion quartered

1 large carrot chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 bay leaf

4 tablespoon of unsalted butter

3 cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

8-10 peppercorns

4-5 juniper berries

1 sprig rosemary, 1 small bunch of sage, 1 small bunch thyme – tied together

1/2 cup cognac – optional

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 oz. prosciutto fat – minced

Cosa fare (What to do)

Pat dry the meat and place it in an earthenware pot. Add the chopped  vegetable, the herbs, and all the spices.

Prepping the BrasatoHerbsSpices

Sprinkle with salt and then pour the wine.

Barolo wineBarolo marinade

Cover with the pot and let marinade in the refrigerator for at  least 12 hours (24 hours would be ideal). Turn the meat over few times during the marinade period.

When ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Also remove the vegetables and herbs. Strain the marinade and discard any remaining solids, including the spices (I did not remove the spices which resulted in a too intense flavor).

In the same pot, heat the oil and butter. Add the vegetables and let them browned.  Also add the bunch of herbs.

Browning vegetables

Add the meat and brown on all sides. At this point if you decide to use the optional cognac, you should splash the liquor over the meat and light it and let the flames go out. I am still not comfortable with this step so I simply splashed the meat with cognac, raise the heat to high and let evaporate.

Season the meat with salt, pour the wine from the marinade over it.

Slow cooking the Brasato

Cover and cook on very low heat for 2 hours.

Spoon out the vegetables and remove the bunch of herbs. Discard the herbs and puree the vegetables in a food processor.

Add the puree to the pot and continue cooking for 30 minutes. At this point the meat should be cooked. Remove it from the pot and keep it warm.

If the sauce appears too liquid, add 1 teaspoon of potato starch, bring to boil and let thicken.

Slice the meat, pour the sauce over and serve with the side dish of your choice.

Buon Appetito!!!

Brasato al Barolo

What are you serving at your Holiday dinner?

BUON NATALE!!!!

Rules for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award

  • Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award
  • Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  • Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award – http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/   and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)
  • Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them
  • As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…
Advertisements

Three Days in Florence . . . Day Two

Ponte Vecchio

I hope you enjoyed My Day one of our Three days in Florence and I trust you are ready for day two.

Last Spring when I was in Florence I stayed at the Pitti Palace Hotel; My room was not the best, the hotel, however, is located right on Ponte Vecchio and, best of all, it has a roof terrace where you can have breakfast while admiring the beautiful view. Nothing better to start your day! So let’s go!

Tre Giorni a Firenze

DAY TWO:

Today we start our tour from the Cappelle Medicee (Medici’s Chapels) in Piazza degli Aldobrandini (this is also the back entrance of the church of San Lorenzo). The Cappelle Medicee represent, since 1869, both a civic museum of Florence and the burial place of the Medici family. They occupy some areas of the Chiesa  di San Lorenzo. The Medici were the Florentine family that dominated the political scene of the city for more than three centuries, beginning in the early 1400s.

The museum is structured in two main areas: Sacrestia Nuova and Cappella dei Principi.

The Sacrestia Nuova (New Sacristy), was the first architectural work of Michelangelo and includes the monuments for Giuliano and  Lorenzo dei Medici. The impressive Cappella dei Principi (Princes Chapel), was designed to host the funerary monuments of the Medici family. The monuments are decorated with 4 allegorical statues: the Day, the Night, the Twilight and the Aurora. The space is entirely covered with marbles of different color and origin. Nothing simple in this room that at that time was considered one of the wonders of the world!

After visiting the Chapels you can walk in the church.

San Lorenzo was built on an early church that was consecrated in 393 AD. It was then rebuilt in Romanic style around the 1000s. Giovanni di Bicci, Lorenzo de’ Medici’s grandfather, decided to transform the little medieval church into a family temple, and hired Brunelleschi for the work. Brunelleschi, however, did not finish the work and left the façade unfinished. Michelangelo designed the interior façade, the sacristy and the library. By Donatello are the sculptures in the Sacrestia Vecchia (Old Sacristy). I personally love the Sacrestia Vecchia with its simple geometry, its clean lines, and its white walls bordered with grey pietra serena. The height of the dome makes it for a transcendent space. The sacristy houses the tombs of Cosimo il Vecchio, his parents and his children.

From the left nave of the church you can access the Libreria Laurenziana (Laurentian Library), founded by Cosimo il Vecchio  (de’ Medici) and enlarged by Lorenzo il Magnifico.

From Piazza San Lorenzo take a right on Borgo San Lorenzo and arrive in Piazza del Duomo.

Take in this overwhelming space. So much to look at: Il Battistero di San Giovanni (St. John’s Baptistery), il Campanile di Giotto (Giotto’s Bell Tower), and of course, the immense Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral).

I could probably write one full post for each one of this landmark, plus one just for the Dome, but for the purpose of this tour (remember we only have three days) I am moving along based on my preferences. So, feel free to visit the Baptistery or to climb the Bell Tower – I have done it once . . . I though I was going to die. I did, however, take some beautiful pictures!

So today, I am heading right to the Porta della Mandorla del Duomo (North side) to access the Cupola (Dome). The Cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore is the biggest masonry dome in the world. The dome was designed by Brunelleschi whose tomb is in the Cathedral ‘s crypt. There are 463 steps to the base of the lantern of the dome but you will have a beautiful view of Florence and, more importantly you will be able to see the majestic frescos of the Il Giudizio Universale (The Last Judgment) by Vasari and Zuccari.

With its 3600 square meter this is the largest surface ever frescoed. You will also be able to look, from above, at the geometry of the marble floor below.

After the Cupola you can visit the Cathedral.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) with its 153 meter in length is the 5th biggest church in Europe. It was built on the site of the ancient Church of Santa Reparata of the IV-V century. Compared to the exterior, the interior appears as a vast space in faded color.

There is, however, quite a lot of art in here. Take a look at the Orologio (clock), by Paolo Uccello, that is at the left side of the entrance. It looks like a daisy with twenty-four petals, one for each hour of the day. It only has one hand and it moves anticlockwise! This is the only clock in the world (still working) that marks the hora italica. This means that the day starts just after dusk, with the first hour of night. The next day starts the following evening. The hand moves anticlockwise because it follows the movement of the shadow casted by the sun, from East to West.

Before you leave the Duomo walk downstairs for a short but well worth visit to the Crypt. The ruins underground are the remains of Santa Reparata, Florence’s oldest church and first cathedral. Brunelleschi’s tombstone is also housed in this space.

If you are ready for a coffee-break, head to the Biblioteca delle Oblate. From the terrace will have one of the best (and free) view of the Dome. As a bonus, the children’s reading room has an wonderful original fresco of the Annunciation. The Biblioteca, is along Via dell’ Oriuolo, 5 minutes from Piazza del Duomo (behind the Duomo on the right).

After your break, head to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

It displays all the statues, paintings, and tapestries that have been removed from the cathedral. I find especially touching Donatello’s carving of Mary Magdalene. The entire sculptural decoration of Giotto’s Bell Tower are also housed in the museum. The museum also houses wooden models of Brunelleschi’s dome and lantern, and many models and plans of the different design for the Cathedral façade developed over the centuries. This past April 1st, after six years of restoration, the Silver Altar of St. John’s Baptistery has been put back on display at the Museum. Under the glass roofed courtyard you will admire the original version of the Porta del Paradiso (Door of the Paradise), designed by Ghilberti for the Baptistery.

Is it time for lunch yet? Head to Piazza de’ Cimatori and to the food cart at the corner.

This is not a tourist attraction. This is where the Florentines stand in line to grab Lampredotto. I was introduced to this delicacy few years ago by one of my Florentine friends. Was I thrilled when she told me what it was? No! But, I tried, I liked, and I think you should try it too. Lampredotto is a street food at its best, it belongs to the popular Tuscan food tradition and yet, it is today considered a connoisseur food. I guess you would like to know what Lapredotto is. The main ingredient is the abomasus (also known as fourth stomach or the rennet stomach) of the veal. The stomach is cooked in a vegetable broth with onion, celery, tomatoes, and parsley. The low heat, slow cooking process ensures tender meat. The lampredotto is then cut into thin strips and served as sandwich with Tuscan bread. To further look like a local, when the person preparing the sandwich asks you if you want it ‘bagnato’ (wet) you should answer SI! The top portion of the sandwich will be dunk in the sauce where the lampredotto was cooked and it will be served dripping with sauce.

After lunch, spend some time at Palazzo Davanzati. Often overlooked, this old building is the museum of the Ancient Florentine Home. This is where you can see how rich families lived in the 1300s and 1400s.

Time to cross Ponte Vecchio and head to Oltrarno.

Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge that was not destroyed by the Germans during World War II. It also miraculously withstood the 1966 flood. Ponte Vecchio is lined with goldsmiths and jewelers (just look but do not buy!).

Across the Bridge, follow Via de` Gucciardini to Piazza de’ Pitti.

Palazzo Pitti will be in front of you. This has been the residence of famous people, the Medici, the Lorena and the King of Italy (Florence was Italy’s Capital from 1861 to 1875). You can visit Palazzo Pitti if you feel inclined to do so but, I rather take a stroll in this area of Florence known as Oltrarno (beyond the Arno). In this area many art & crafts, and antiques shops can be found. You can visit workshops where wood-carvers, goldsmiths, marble and ceramics restorers, and cabinet-makers live and work. There are also lovely small trattoria, café, gelateria and pizzeria.

Walk to Piazza Santo Spirito and enjoy this beautiful square and Brunelleschi’s homonymous church. Piazza Santo Spirito is the only square in Oltrarno where a food and clothes market is held each day. Here, I had a lovely lunch at Osteria Santo Spirito.

From Piazza Santo Spirito walk to the church of Santa Maria del Carmine to visit the Cappella Brancacci and be mesmerized by Masolino and Masaccio’s frescos.

From The church head back toward Ponte  Santa Trinita.

Cross the bridge and follow Via de’ Tornabuoni. This is the fashion street of Firenze. The first palace on Via Tornabuoni (on the right) is the Ferragamo shoes boutique and Museum. I am a shoe’s lover so, definitely a stop here for me!

My next must stop place is Arte del Cioccolato on Via Porta Rossa (corner of Via Tornabuoni). This is Roberto Catinari’s chocolate shop. This is chocolate lovers’ heaven. You can sit and indulge in a selection of chocolates paired with wine, you can sip specialty caffe` (always enhanced by chocolate) with literary names such as Virgilio, Beatrice . . . or you can simply take home a box of wonderful cioccolatini.

Along Via de’ Tornabuoni you will walk in front of Palazzo Strozzi (on your right).

Palazzo Strozzi represents a perfect example of the ideal mansion of the Renaissance and the whole looks like a small fortress in the hearth of the city. The palace is today considered the main space in Florence to host temporary exhibits. The current exhibit is: American in Florence – Sargent and the American Impressionists ( March 3- July 15).

It has been a long day and you should reward yourself with a juicy Bistecca di Chianina DOP (Steak from Chainina beef ‘Protected designation origin’ certified). Right here, at the corner of Via Tornabuoni, in Via del Trebbio, there is one of my favorite restaurants and one of the best Bistecca in town, Buca Lapi.

Take a night stroll at your leisure, stop at Cafe Gilli in Piazza della Repubblica for people watching, and have a good night sleep before your last day in Florence.

Have you been to Florence? What did you enjoy the most? Leave a comment to share your experience!

MY FAVORITE STOPS TO TICKLE YOUR TASTE BUDS:

These are within today itinerary

GELATO:

Gelateria della Passera, Via Toscanella, 15r

Gelateria La Carraia, Piazza N. Sauro, 25r

LUNCH:

Borgovino, Via Borgo S. Lorenzo, 21r

Gustapizza, Via Maggio, 46r

Osteria Santo Spirito, Piazza Santo Spirito, 16r

Procacci, Via de’ Tornabuoni, 64r (sandwich with truffle sauce)

DINNER:

Buca Lapi, Via del Trebbio, 1

Diladdarno, Via dei Serragli, 108r

RELATED POSTS:

Three Days is Florence . . . Day One

Three Days in Florence . . . Day Three

Torta Caprese for Valentine’s Day

I am back! I can’t believe this is my first blog in February. Time really flies! I have been busy preparing for the classes that I will be teaching at the end of the month, I have been away with my family for a weekend to celebrate my son’s 21st birthday and . . . I am back on a diet!

What a better occasion to get back on my blog than Valentine’s Day?

San Valentino, “la festa degli innamorati” (the holiday of lovers), this is how in Italy we refer to this holiday. So, forget the diet and let me share with you a decadent dessert that would make your Valentine’s Day even more special.

Not so fast though, first let me tell you something about my Valentine’s Day.

The festivity of San Valentino also coincides with the festivity of San Modestino, which is the Patron Saint of my hometown Avellino, so to me, for many years, february 14  just meant one thing: NO SCHOOL. Hey, I am not saying I didn’t like school, still, who doesn’t like a day off?

Then, I was in love. . . . my first date with my future husband was the second Sunday of February 1980. No specific date, it was simply the second Sunday. One thing I know, it was too soon to celebrate Valentine’s Day. And, it was too conventional for us.

It wasn’t until we moved to the United Sates that Valentine’s Day has taken a different meaning. In the United Sates, this holiday expands to include all your loved ones and I like that. Throughout this past 21 years, I had fun helping my little boys writing countless Valentine’s cards, baking heart shaped cookies, packing Valentine’s gift boxes to my son away in college, sharing chocolates with my coworkers and still. . . my husband and I had not celebrated Valentine’s Day. The second Sunday in February has been our day for the past 32 years.

Yet, something is different this year. My husband has been working out of town and any occasion is good for me to take the three hour trip to see him and so, this February 14, 2012, we will have our first Valentine’s night out!

But now enough with all the nonsense, time to share my recipe, the Torta Caprese (no, it is not the tomatoes-mozzarella salad!).

La Torta Caprese is a typical chocolate cake from the beautiful island of Capri.

It appears that this cake originated in the 1920s in a local bakery, where the pastry chef forgot to add the flour to the almond cake he was baking for three American gangsters that were on the island to buy bulk of gaiters for Al Capone.

The peculiarity of this rich cake is precisely the lack of flour and yeast (a perfect option for people suffering from celiac disease). The main ingredients are chocolate and almonds. The “segreto” (secret) is all in the process which must create as much air as possible, so not to have a dry and hard final product. To enhance the almond flavor I have added to the recipe some Amaretto liquor. The Caprese has a crunchy texture on the outside with a soft, moist heart.

The Torta Caprese is typically served simply dusted with powdered sugar but, for the occasion (My second Sunday in February!) I served mine with a raspberry sauce that I prepared cooking the raspberry in Amaretto liquor. Oh, and I baked my cake in a heart shaped pan!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Buona festa degli innamorati!

RICETTA DELLA TORTA CAPRESE 

My Torta Caprese with Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients 

1-3/4 cup  10.5 oz. almonds (not peeled)

1-3/4 cup 8.8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

1-3/4 cup  8.8 oz. butter (softened)

1 cup granulated sugar

5 eggs (white and yolks separated)

1 pinch of salt

1 tablespoon Amaretto liquor (Optional – My personal touch)

Powdered sugar for decoration

Directions

Preheat the oven to 360 degree. Butter and dust with flour a baking pan or line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or food processor combine the egg yolks and the sugar.

Process until the sugar is dissolved, the color is light yellow and the consistence is smooth and silky.

Add the softened butter and process until all is blended together.

In the mean while melt the chocolate chip in a water bath or on the microwave (I used the defrost setting of the microwave).

Grind the almonds. The almonds should be finely grounded, it is however preferable if some roughly chopped pieces are in the mix, this will give texture to the cake.

Add the melted chocolate to the eggs, sugar, butter mixture and process slowly to blend. Add the almonds and blend. Lastly add the Amaretto liquor.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt. With the electric mixer, whip until the egg whites are firm then incorporate few spoonful at the time into the chocolate mixture. It is important that you work slowly with a bottom to top motion, this will help to create air into the cake.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven let rest in the pan for few minutes. Flip the pan over a cooling rack and the cake should slide right out of the pan and on the rack.

It’s not a broken heart! The pan was just not tall enough.

Let it cool for 1 hour before dusting with powder sugar.

I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to make a paper template to make the heart in the center of the cake.  I then used the  cookie cutter to fill the center with cocoa.

RASPBERRY SAUCE

Ingredients

1 pint fresh raspberry

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon cornstarch

½ cup Amaretto liquor

Directions

In a small pan add the raspberry, the butter, the sugar, and the Amaretto liquor .

Heat to boiling and cook slowly until the raspberry have come apart.

Remove from heat, strain to a fine sieve to discard the seeds. Use a little of the juice to dissolve the cornstarch. Transfer the strained juice back into the pan, add the dissolved cornstarch and cook slowly for few minutes until it thickens a little.

Remove from heat ad transfer to a gravy bowl.

Drizzle the cake with the warm sauce.

I hope you will enjoy it . . . we sure did!

What is your favorite Valentine’s day dessert? Let me know!

Struffoli and Mostaccioli My favorite Christmas desserts

Yesterday was December 21, the shortest day of the year. That means brighter days are ahead and Christmas is only 4 days away.

Time to start My holiday desserts and to share two of My favorite Christmas recipes .

You probably all know about the Panettone from Milano and the Pandoro from Verona, both delicious holiday cakes and today easily available in many gourmet grocery stores.

But, how many of you know about two delicious specialties of the Neapolitan region, the Struffoli and the Mostaccioli?

The Struffoli and the Mostaccioli are nowhere to be found in the States (or at least around my area) so I had no choice that to make My own.

The Struffoli are a true Neapolitan dolce (dessert). It appears that the Greeks brought this specialty to Naples. From there it has widespread throughout Central and Southern Italy; however, with some variations from region to region.

The Struffoli are little balls of dough fried and then coated in honey. Their flavor improves after a couple of days. That’s why it is important to prepare them a few days before the event.  I use a traditional recipe without baking powder because I like My Struffoli a little crunchy. If you prefer a softer consistency add 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder and let the dough rest for 60 minutes. Also, the original recipe includes the Italian liqueur Strega or Anisette but, since just few weeks ago I bottled My Limoncello (you should know this if you have been following My blog!), I am using that in my recipe.

The Mostaccioli, also called Mustaccioli are sort of large biscotti (cookies) shaped like a diamond and covered with a chocolate glaze or ganache. The name Mostaccioli comes from the peasant’s habit to use the wine must in order to develop a more  intense and sweet flavor. 

The list of traditional Christmas desserts from the Neapolitan area also include other delicacies like the Susamielli, honey based biscotti shaped like the letter S. The Roccoco`, very hard biscotti, shaped like donuts with an intense flavor of almond and citrus. The Divinoamore, prepared for the first time by the nuns of the convent Divino Amore. The almonds and lemons along with the light pink glaze give these small bites a unique Mediterranean flavor.

I have yet to experiment with these recipes, may be next Christmas I will but for now, I hope you will enjoy My Struffloli and Mostaccioli.

My Mostaccioli

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nut meg

2 finely crushed cloves

the zest from 1 orange and 1 tangerine

juice from 1 orange and 1 tangerine

2 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon Grand Marnier (optional)

1 pinch of salt

Warm water as necessary

For the glaze

1/4 pound semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cram

Directions

In a bowl of a food processor sift together the flower, the salt, the baking powder, the baking soda and the cocoa powder. Add the sugar and combine the ingredients at slow speed.

Add the orange and tangerine zest and the spices and process until combined.

In a measuring cup pour the required amount of  honey , add the orange juice and tangerine juice and then add to the dry ingredients (do not rinse the cup, add  ¼ cup of warm water and keep it aside).  Mix the dough at medium speed allowing all the ingredients to come together.

Add the Grand Marnier and keep processing the dough. Add the warm water as necessary to obtain a compact dough.

Mix the dough until it detaches from the side of the bowl. It should be smooth with no lumps.

Damp the dough on a surface slightly dusted with flour and shape into a ball.

Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven at 360 degree F.

Remove the dough form the refrigerator and on a surface well dusted with flour roll out the dough to a ½ inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath to make sure it is not sticking.

Cut the dough into diamond shape, large and/or small and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer on wire rack to completely cool.

Prepare the chocolate ganache.

In a pan combine chocolate chips and the heavy cram in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate melts.

With a brush cover the bottom of the Mostaccioli with a thin layer of chocolate and let them dry completely. Once they are dry, flip the Mostaccioli and pour the chocolate over the top. Work on a wire rack with a pan underneath because you will have to allow the chocolate to drizzle down the sides. The Mostaccioli need several hours to dry completely.

My Struffoli

Ingredients

4 – ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

5- 2/3 tablespoon unsalted butter

zest from ½ lemon

1 pinch of salt

2 tablespoon of Limoncello (options are Strega liqueur or Anisette or Rum)

Vegetable oil for frying (I use Peanut oil)

1 cup of honey

Multicolor nonpareils

Mixed candied fruit chopped into small pieces.

Directions

In a bowl of a food processor sift the flower, add the salt, the sugar, the lemon zest and the butter and combine the ingredients at slow speed.

Slowly add the eggs and lastly the liqueur and process the dough until it detaches from the side of the bowl (add a little bit of cold water if necessary).

The dough should be smooth.

Damp the dough on a surface slightly dusted with flour and shape into a ball.

Wrap the dough in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.

On a surface well dusted with flour knead the dough for few minutes and then divide into small balls, the size of oranges.

Working with one ball of dough at the time, roll the dough into ½ inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into ½ inch long pieces. As you cut the pieces placed them on a surface dusted with flour.

Right before frying transfer  the pieces of dough (one batch at the time) into a sieve and shake to remove excess flour.

In a deep frying pan, heat the oil to 175 degree and fry the pieces of dough in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan.

As soon as they became light gold, remove from the oil, drain and transfer into a plate lined with absorbent kitchen paper.

Place a large pan on top of a pot with simmering water. Pour the honey in the pan and let melt. Remove from heat and add the fried Struffoli, add the candied fruit and stir until all the Struffoli are completely coated with honey.

To plate the Struffoli, place a glass or a round jar in the center of a serving plate and then place the Struffoli all around to form a ring. Sprinkle with nonpareils and let sit few hours before removing the glass/jar.

You still have time to make these two wonderful desserts, follow the recipes and remember I will be around if you have questions.

Don’t forget to check My blog tomorrow for My Christmas Eve Menu`!