Delizia al Limoncello . . . a cake fit for celebrations!

In three days I will be flying to Italy and I cannot tell you how excited I am, however, I could not leave without sharing with you another moment of excitement in my adventure as a blogger.

I am celebrating 10,000 views on my blog . . . I am ecstatic!

Coincidentally, I hit the 10,000 mark exactly 9 months after my very first post which I thought was pretty cool.

Early Saturday morning I realized that I was close to the magic number so I decided that this time I would celebrate in style – Italian style of course – with a cake.

Back in July, I visited Fante Kitchen Shop in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. The store is like candy land for cooks. I only needed a Fusilli iron but I came out with much more, including a hemisphere cake pan.

As soon as I saw this dome shaped pan I knew what I wanted to bake: A Delizia al Limoncello!

Since July, however, I hadn’t had a chance to bake my Delizia, among other reasons I had to wait for my homemade Limoncello to be ready – for my Limoncello recipe click here.

What better occasion than my 10,000 views to inaugurate my new pan and experiment with a new recipe?!

The original name of this dessert is Delizie al limone (delizie is plural of delizia); it’s the youngest dessert of the Campania region. The dessert has quickly become the symbol of the Amalfi coast, where in 1978, chef Carmine Marzuillo presented this delicacy for the first time.

Generally, the delizie are prepared as individual servings, in the shape of a small dome and they are often arranged in a cluster to allow for a large, more dramatic presentation. I decided to utilize my large hemisphere cake pan to create one big Delizia. Also, I call my dessert Delizia al Limoncello, because, unlike the original recipe, I use Limoncello in every element of the cakes.

So, I celebrate another milestone of my adventure sharing this recipe with all of you.

It’s my way to say THANK YOU to all of you for following me, leaving kind comments, and showing your support.

Please keep visiting and sharing with the world my little piece of Italy.

NOTES:

  • You can bake as individual serving using half sphere baking pan – I just found a silicone mold that seems great on Amazon – or muffins pan.
  • For a more kids friendly version, you can substitute the limoncello with equal amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • You can substitute the potato starch with cornstarch. In this case use only 2 tablespoon of cornstarch and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons.

Ricetta

DELIZIA AL LIMONCELLO

Cosa serve (What you need)

For the Pan di Spagna (Italian sponge cake)

5 eggs (yolk and white separated)

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup potato starch (you can substitute with cornstarch – see note above)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 pinch of salt

1 teaspoon limoncello

For the pastry cream filling

¾ cup flour (sifted)

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups whole milk

Grated zest from 2 lemons (best quality and organic)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

¼ cup limoncello

For the pastry cream to cover the cake

2 cups whole milk

¾ cup sugar

3 teaspoons cornstarch

Grated zest from 2 lemons (best quality and organic)

1/3 cup limoncello

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

For the syrup

1-1/2 cup sugar

½ cup water

zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup limoncello

Cosa fare (What to do)

Step 1: making the cake

  • Pre heat oven at 350 degrees. Butter and floured the cake pan.
  • Sift together the flour, potato starch and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and a pinch of salt and beat until stiff peaks form.

  • Transfer to another bowl.
  • Rinse and dry the bowl of the standing mixer, switch to the paddle attachment and add the egg yolks and sugar. Beat until light, fluffy and creamy at least15 minutes.
  • Add the grated lemon zest and limoncello and blend into the mixture.
  • Slowly add the egg whites meringue. Make sure you are working on low speed during this step.
  • When the egg whites are blended into the mixture start adding the sifted flour. Blend the ingredients always working on low speed.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake pan.

  • Bake for 40 minutes. Test: a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean when the cake is done.
  • Turn the oven off but leave the cake inside for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, let stand in the pan for additional 5 minutes.
  • Carefully remove from pan (upside down) and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Step 2: making the filling and topping creams

In a pan add all the milk (4 cups) and the grated lemon zest of the 4 lemons. When is about to boil turn the heat off, cover with a lid and let rest for 30 minutes. Then filter through a sieve and divide the milk into two equal parts (you will use each half for each cream).

For the Limoncello cream filling:

  • In a pan add the eggs and the sugar and with a hand held mixer beat until light, fluffy and creamy.
  • Add the sifted flour and mix well with the aid of a whisker.
  • Slowly add the one half of the filtered milk (2 cups). Mix well to blend.
  • Move the pan on the stove and on low heat – while stirring – cook until cream is dense.
  • Remove from heat, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely. TIP: place the plastic wrap directly on the cream to avoid forming the skin.

  • In the bowl of the standing mixer, with the whisk attachment, whip the entire heavy whipping cream (2-1/2 cups total).
  • When the cream is cold, stir until smooth, add ¼ cup of limoncello and fold in 1/3 of the previously whipped cream.

For the Limoncello topping cream:

  • In a pan add the sugar and cornstarch. Slowly add the second half of the filtered milk (2 cups) and mix well with a whisk.
  • Move the pan on the stove and on low heat – while stirring – cook until cream starts to become dense.

  • Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • When the cream is cold add 1/3 cup of limoncello and fold in the remaining whipped cream. This cream should result fluid and not very dense.

Step 3: making the Limoncello syrup:

  • In a small pan add the water, sugar and zest of 1 lemon. Bring to boil and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  • When cold add the limoncello.

Step 4: Assembling the cake:

  • When the cake is completely cool you can cut the base. Do not discard the base; you will use it later. Tip: To avoid flattening the dome top, I set my cake over a small bowl.

  • Leaving a ½ inch edge, (I used a small bowl as template), using a spoon, carve out the inside of the cake.

  • Splash the interior and top edge with the syrup.

  • Pour the filling cream into the carved cake.

  • Top with the base that you had previously. Splash the base with syrup.

  • Place your serving dish over the base of the cake and carefully turn upside down.

  • Splash the dome with the syrup and then cover with the topping cream. Make sure you are using a large serving plate. Remember, the cream should be fluid and will run all around the base of the cake.

  • Let set for 5 minutes and then decorate the base with whipped cream.

  • You can decorate the top with candied lemon or, as I did, with thin lemon zest ribbons.

Step 5:

HAVE A BIG SLICE AND ENJOY!!!

NOTES:

  • You might have some extra filling cream, use it to make a thin layer into each individual serving plates . . . a little bed for you wonderful slice of cake.
  • If you bake small individual cakes, you can arrange them in a large dish and cover with the topping cream. You will then spoon out into individual serving plates.

This recipe has many steps and requires some time but it is a wonderful treat for a special occasion.

I will be in Sorrento in two weeks and I will sure enjoy a delizia there, but in a meanwhile my family and I have been enjoying My Delizia al Limoncello very much!

Which is your favorite cake for a special occasion?

The recipe for Pan di Spagna is adapted from my old cookbook, Il libro dei dolci.

The recipes of the creams are adapted for gennarino.org

Coffee Ginger Semifreddo . . . A sweet treat to beat the Summer heat!

MY COFFEE GINGER SEMIFREDDO

Few weeks ago, in a previous post, I showed you pictures of my Coffee-Ginger Semifreddo and I promised my recipe. With outside temperature reaching 105 degrees, here it is the perfect treat for these scorching days of Summer.

Semifreddo (literally half-cold) is a semi-frozen dessert, predecessor of the gelato. It is defined as “ dolce al cucchiaio” (dessert for spoon) and it is best served at a temperature between 14-21 degree.

Ricetta

MY SEMIFREDDO AL CAFFÈ E ZENZERO

Coffee and Ginger Semifreddo

NOTE: The recipe is divided into two sections: ginger semifreddo and coffee semifreddo.

Ingredients for Ginger Semifreddo:

1 cup. mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)

3 fresh eggs

10 tablespoons sugar

¾ cup heavy whipping cream (very cold)

2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Spray a 9 by 5 by 3-inch metal loaf pan with non-stick spray. Line the pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper allowing the excess to hang over the ends and sides.

First make the ginger syrup. In a small pan melt (on low heat) 6-1/3 tablespoons of sugar with 4 tablespoon of water and 2 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger.

Let simmer for five minutes, remove from stove and let steep for five more minutes.

In a medium glass bowl, break the egg yolks with a fork; passing through a sieve, add the ginger syrup and a pinch of salt and whisk together until smooth. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.

Whisk until the egg mixture is pale, thick and creamy, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Put the bowl into a larger bowl of iced water and with an hand held electric mixer beat until fluffy and completely cool.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the 3/4 cup of heavy cream with the mascarpone and the remaining sugar at medium-high speed until soft peaks begin to form.

Start folding the whipped cream-mascarpone mixture into the cooled egg-yolk mixture (do not pour all at once, start with 1/4, fold it in then add more) and with a spatula mix gently until no streaks remain.

Spoon the mixture onto the prepared loaf pan, spreading in an even layer.

Oops, forgot to take picture . . . this is the second layer!

Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the semifreddo and place into freezer for one hour.

SECOND STEP: Preparing the coffee semifreddo.

Time the second step of the semifreddo so that the coffee semifreddo will be ready for the freezer not before the one hour mark from the time you place the ginger semifreddo into the freezer.

Ingredients for Coffee Semifreddo:

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

12 tablespoon of sugar

¼ cup brewed espresso

4 eggs

In a small pan melt (on low heat) 6 -1/3 tablespoons of sugar with the ¼ cup of espresso. Bring to boil and then simmer for five minutes, remove from stove and let cool.

Repeat same step you followed for ginger semifreddo: In a medium glass bowl, break the egg yolks with a fork; add a pinch of salt and start whisk while slowly pouring the coffee syrup. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.

Whisk until the egg mixture is, thick and creamy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Put the bowl into a larger bowl of iced water to cool completely. Use the hand held electric mixer to beat the coffee cream until light and fluffy.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with 3 tablespoons of sugar (also add a pinch of salt) until firm, like meringue.

Gently fold the egg whites into the coffee cream.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and the remaining sugar, until soft peaks form.

Fold the cream into the coffee mixture and with a spatula mix gently until no streaks remain.

Remove the ginger semifreddo from the freezer, remove the plastic film from the top and quickly Spoon the coffee mixture over the ginger semifreddo.

Spread in an even layer, Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the semifreddo and place into freezer for at least 4 hours.

Remove the plastic wrap. Invert the semifreddo onto a platter and peel off the parchment paper.

You can sprinkle the top with finely chopped crystallized ginger, a dust of ground coffee or dark unsweetened chocolate powder.

Cut the semifreddo into 1-inch slices or 2-inches squares and serve.

NOTE: You can add an ingredient of your choice between the two layers of semifreddo, such as crushed amaretti, chocolate covered coffee beans, ground crystallized ginger, and so on.

I tried to prepare a sheet of dark chocolate but I need to work on this preparation a little more, I will, however, show you my attempt.

It was my intention to create two sheets of dark chocolate, one to line the bottom of the loaf pan (it would then become the top of the semifreddo) and one between the two layers of semifreddo. I gave up to the bottom part as I could not get a clean-cut of the sheet of chocolate. I did, however, use the pieces of chocolate’s sheet between the two layers of semifreddo. I figure that none would know that it was not perfect . . . I forgot that the whole world would know after reading my blog!

Here it is My attempt at making sheets of chocolate:

Melt some dark chocolate in a small pan sitting on top of  pan with simmering water.

Add some chopped crystallized ginger.

Spread the mixture about 1/8 inch thick on parchment paper.

Cover with parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator until no longer soft, but not hard.

Using a sharp knife I tried to make a clean-cut.

Clean cuts? Not this time!

As you can see I was not successful so I only used the cutouts in the middle of the semifreddo.

I will keep practicing and I will share more tips.

For now enjoy my scrumptious semifreddo!

AND DON’T FORGET TO ENTER MY BOOK GIVEAWAY :

MASSERIA THE ITALIAN FARMHOUSE OF PUGLIA

DETAILS ARE HERE, SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

National Pie Day. . . My Pear Pie

Just a few days ago, browsing a newspaper, I learned that today, January 23 is National Pie Day.

I don’t consider the pie as one of the most typical Italian dessert; Fruit crostata (tart) and jam tart are more common. Once, however, I read about this National Pie Day I decided to investigate a little further.

Through the American Pie Council, I learned that the first pies were made by early Romans who, also, published the first pie recipe.The early pies were mostly meat pies.

I shall always remember the first meat pies I was invited to taste on my first visit to London. I was my uncle and aunt’s guest. My aunt is English; She is a great cook, in fact , she shared with me her recipe of the best cauliflower dish I have ever had. Her roast beef is out of this world, still, the meat pie was hard to swallow. Sorry aunt Margharet!

Back to history, it  appears that fruit pies or tarts were probably first made in the 1500s. The credit for the first cherry pies goes to the English who made it for Queen Elizabeth I. Indeed, the English settlers were the first to bring the pie to America where, over the years, it has become the most traditional dessert.

How lucky am I! Being Italian and living in the USA, I celebrate Italian holidays and traditions, but I also embrace American celebrations, although always in Italian style. The National Pie Day has given me the opportunity to pay homage to yet another American tradition, and at the same time, to discover a new Italian recipe.

When I cook, my goal is always to use seasonal ingredients, so, to celebrate National Pie Day, I have baked a Charlotte di pere (Pear Pie), a traditional recipe of the Italian region of Piemonte. The name Charlotte, derives from  French. The region of Piemonte, prior to the unification of Italy, has been in the orbit of the French House of Savoy for more than 800 years; The long French domination certainly had a great influence on the regional gastronomy, which indeed, borrows many traditions and terms from the nearby Country.

The recipe I used is  from  “La Cucina, the regional cooking of Italy”, by the Italian Academy of Cuisine. I am very passionate about Italian regional cuisine and I find this cookbook a great resource.

The uniqueness of this pie is that the fruit is cooked in wine. I started my pie while my son was perplexedly observing what I was doing. He is always very concerned when I use  wine in my recipes; once, however, the aroma of the fruit and the cooking wine started to diffuse throughout the kitchen, the concerns and doubts dissipated. The final result was certainly proof that wine can do wonders!

Being this a recipe from Piemonte, it is not surprising that Barolo is the suggested wine to use. Barolo is actually one of my favorite Italian wine. It is, however, a pricey wine, especially in USA . A great alternative for this recipe is the Nebbiolo (Nebbiolo grape is used for the production of Barolo), still a hearty, high quality wine, but more affordable. Nebbiolo is what I used. Of course, you can substitute with a hearty wine of your choice and liking.

Happy Pie Day!!!

Ricetta Charlotte di Pere

Pear Pie Recipe

For the short pastry:

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/4 cup sugar

7 oz (14 tablespoon) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

4 extralarge egg yolks

1/4 cup chilled Marsala wine(sweet)

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 pinch of salt

For the filling:

2 lbs. pears (possibly Seckel), cored but not peeled and cut in half lengthwise. If using larger pear cut into quarters.

1 and 1/4 cup pitted prunes (original recipe is 1 and 3/4 cups. I thought was too much)

1 rhubarb stalk (this is my personal addition to the recipe), washed, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups of Nebbiolo (original recipe uses Barolo. Other hearty red wine will do)

5 tablespoon sugar

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 pinch ground cloves

1 pinch of salt

Directions:

Prepare the short pastry: cold ingredients are essential to making a pie crust. Sift together the flour, the sugar and the salt. Transfer into the bowl of a food processor. Add the cubed butter and process without overworking the dough.

Stir in the eggs, Marsala and lemon zest until the dough comes together.

Transfer to a surface dusted with flour and quickly knead the dough for 1 minute, form a ball and then flatten it.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Prepare the filling: In a large pan, combine the pears, prunes, rhubarb, wine, lemon zest, sugar, spices and salt. Cook on medium heat until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup and the pears are tender (you don’t want the pear to fall apart).

Preheat the oven at 350 degree. Butter a deep pie dish.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough and use it to line the pie dish. Trim the dough to 1 inch over hang. The dough might break while you transfer to the pie dish. It is, however, easy to patch with extra dough (from the picture you can see that my dough broke in several pieces).

Fill the pie crust with the cooked fruit and liquid.

Roll out the remaining dough and cover the fruit. Seal the edges with your fingers. With the index finger on one hand, press the dough against the thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand; continue around the perimeter of the crust and dish. ( I am still perfecting this skill!)

Lastly cut slits in the center of the crust to vent steam.

Position your pie dish in the lower third of the oven and bake for 45 minutes. You may have to cover the edges with foil to avoid overbrowning the edges ( I cover mine during last 15 minute, a little earlier however, would have been better).

Cool the pie and serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream!