Search
This is Us!

We are here to bring you our life through food. Especially Italian food. You can learn more about us here.

Navigation

Entries in dessert (12)

Friday
Oct042013

Forbidden Donuts

It was September 22nd and I was sitting on the floor of my parents' basement, unpacking from my London trip. I was rifling through my suitcase, pulling out all my race gear: heartrate monitor, aero helmet, running shoes stuffed with a finisher's medal and assorted GU's...

I lined all these things up on the floor and just stared at them. And then I started to cry. Real tears! Why?

Let's be clear: I had just disembarked from an international flight in which I had spent the duration of seven hours:

1. Watching the Karate Kid.

2. Poking a travesty of an airline BBQ chicken chunk with a plastic fork, willing it to be something better than what it was.

3. Begging my eardrums not to burst due to a raging sinus infection.

I was clearly not in good form.

The sight of my squished and useless racing flats stuffed with gooey carbs that I no longer required pushed me over the edge much like that unpainted fence post for Daniel-Son. Except now, the final tourney was over.

So I cried because it felt like the end of a relationship, rather than the end of a racing season. I had spent a year prepping for this race. A year of mental Olympics, early mornings, injuries, sweat and not eating things like donuts.

And so now I'm on the other side...the "off season", and even though I can stuff my face full of donuts, sleep in, and take it easy a bit, it feels like a loss somehow. At least for now.

So I am approaching those forbidden donuts with caution, much like my off season. Instead of committing to the full-fledged fried version, I baked them. And made them mini-sized. And gluten-free!

At the very least, this slightly healthier version makes me think I really CAN stuff my face full of them while sleeping in to the barbaric hour of 7am.

Go on...eat one...No, I shouldn't....Well, maybe just one. Or twelve...

Gluten Free, BAKED Cider Mini Donuts (for your on and off again season).

Recipe adapted from this one.

What You Need:
2 cups of apple cider, preferably freshly pressed; boiled down to yield 2/3 cups and cooled

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ cup almond or coconut milk

1 3/4 cups sweet sorghum flour

1 3/4 cups gluten free oat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground if possible

For the topping:

2 tablespoons melted butter (or coconut butter)

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

What You Do:

NOTE: I used a Sunbeam mini-donut maker. But you can pop them in the oven, too.

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
 
In a food processor, cream the butter.  Add the coconut sugar and cream together.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Add the milk and reduced apple cider. Mix to combine.

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (in the food processor) 1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.

Prepare donut pans or donut iron with cooking spray.  Fill the donut cavities no more than 2/3 full.  Place in the oven for 7-9 minutes until donuts spring back to the touch. If using the Sunbeam donut iron, bake according to manufacturer's instructions.

Remove donuts and allow to sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Prepare the topping by mixing together the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Lightly paint the melted butter onto the top of a donut with a cooking/basting brush.  Then, sprinkle the sugar and spice mix onto the buttered donut.

 

Friday
Aug022013

Oh You Sweet Tater, You Are, You Are!

Another day, another adventure. In eating and in living.

Here we are in the beginning of August, and what do I have to show for it? Quite a lot, actually. There's a lot I haven't been telling you. I'm sorry. It's not personal. It's not you. It's me.

But let's reconcile. Kiss and make up? I'll fill you in on the details, and hopefully win you back with this recipe for Sweet Potato Tarts. They're gluten and dairy free. And totally delicious.

Did the words gluten-free just freak you out a bit? I hope so, they freak me out. Truth is, I've been experimenting with some gluten-free cooking. Readers of this blog know that I do a lot of physical activity, triathlon training and whatnot.

All this exercise has made me a bit sensitive to certain foods. It's also made me a VERY cheap date. One beer and I'm a very happy person. VERY happy. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I've started my own line of endurance snacks - Ciao Cycling Snacks. They're endurance snacks straight from your Italian Grandma's kitchen. If you'd like more info, you can check out the website here.

They will make you feel like this:

And that is how you want to feel, people, with a bike or without.

And speaking of bikes, as you may know I fractured my hip in a biking accident at the end of April. It's been a downer, as I haven't been able to run...that is, until a few weeks ago.

But the running...well, it's HARD. For this past NYC Triathlon, I wasn't in the running shape I wanted to be in. 

This was disappointing to me to say the least. But, I changed my goal for the race. I decided to run happy. Meaning, I would smile the ENTIRE 6.2 miles. I must take a moment to shout out to my teammate and friend Tommy who ran with me the whole time, ensuring that I neither went too fast (I have a broken hip, people!) nor stopped smiling. Thank you, Tommy.

Here is the evidence:

In addition to happy running, there are a few food-related things that are making me happy. Including:

Awesome tacos on the Upper West Side at Oaxaca. If you happen to go on a day when the Korean taco (pictured on the left) is a special, you are in luck.

The Classic Bibimbop on the Good Fork brunch menu. Ground beef, sticky rice, pickled carrots, some other pickled things...and a fried EGG. Bam. I travelled all the way to Red Hook for this. On the ferry. With Ikea goers. And I would do it again. So there.

Joe Coffee's cold brewed latte. With soy milk. And hot pink. Get the large. You'll be zooming the rest of the day.

And....finally, the Sweet Tater Tarts. These started with the graham crackers, featured here. I then used these to create a fantastically moist and flavorful crust. Let's go:

For the Crust
What You Need:

1 1/2 cup walnuts

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (just pulse some graham crackers in a food processor)

1 large egg (optional, you can do without it if you are vegan)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

What To Do:

Coarsely chop walnuts and graham crackers in a food processor until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.

Add the egg and melted butter to the crumb mixture and pulse to combine. The mixture should start to hold together in clumps.

Place a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan on a baking sheet. Crumble the mixture over the surface of the tart pan and press to form the crust. Alternately, you can use four small tart tins with removable bottoms (that's what I used).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until set.

For the Filling:
What You Need:

1 1/2 large sweet potatoes, baked until soft.

1/2 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon coconut sugar (you can use regular sugar if you must)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

What To Do:

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend!! Like you mean it. Spoon the resulting magical mixture into your tins or large pie dish. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, until set.

For the Coconut Cream
What You Need:

1 can of full fat coconut milk (the kind that comes in a can)

2 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What To Do:

Chill a large mixing bowl and the can of coconut cream in the freezer for 15 minutes.

After chilling, open the can coconut milk and spoon out JUST the top later of extra thick and rich and luxurious coconut cream into the chilled bowl.

Add the sugar and vanilla and whip on high speed with a hand-held mixer until it starts to firm up. You won't get stiff peaks of cream like you would with heavy cream. But after about 5-7 minutes of mixing it will start to hold together and get very thick. You can even place the resulting cream in the freezer after whipping to keep it extra chilled and thick.

When you are ready to serve, spoon the cream onto the tart and serve! Feel free to dust the top with a little cacao powder or maple sugar crystals.

Tuesday
Mar262013

Easter Eatables!

Today, I'm bringing you Iaciofano tried and true Easter recipes. Most of these are desserts, because unlike every other holiday, on Easter the Iaciofano's branch out. We don't bake the traditional ham. And we try to mix up the side dishes. However, we DO have some desserts (and one appetizer) that have been statistically proven to be reliable year after year. Here is our collection:

Fruit and Nut Trifle (pictured above)

Trifle
What You Need:
1 c of almonds chopped
2 t water
4 t sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 c dried apricots and cranberries chopped
2 t butter
2 pears cored and diced
mandarin orange segments – small can
1 Tbsp rum
4 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup confection sugar
1 cup orange juice
raspberries for decoration
sponge cake – see below for recipe

What To Do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl toss the nuts with cinnamon then water and sugar and then spread on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes and toast for about 7 minutes.

Chop dried fruit and cover with hot water and a little rum and let set for 10 minutes.  Drain the fruit and add to the nuts. Toss.

In a sauté pan heat the butter and add a little sugar. Add the diced pears and sauté and then add the fruits and nuts.

In a bowl mix the heavy cream with the confectioners sugar vanilla and rum.  Mix until cream is whipped to soft peaks.

Brush the cake with the orange juice to make it a little moist.

In a trifle bowl first add some whipped cream and then place the sponge cake on top to cover the cream.  Layer with the fruit/nut mixture and then add a little cream.  Follow with the cake and continue to build the trifle.  Finish with the whipped cream.  For a festive look top with fresh raspberries. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Sponge Cake

What You Need:
8 eggs
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
orange juice for brushing (optional)

What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large square pan (13″x18″) and line with parchment paper.

Put the eggs into a mixer (Kitchenaid or hand-held). Slowly add the sugar to the eggs, beating until they are twice the volume from when they started and a pale lemon color.

Slowly add the flour to the above ingredients and also the lemon zest.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 15 minutes.

After it’s done, you can brush the cake with some orange juice, using a pastry brush. This makes it nice and juicy, and adds a complementing flavor for the fruit and nuts in the trifle.

Try not to eat it all. Or eat it all. Whichever.

Ricotta Fritters

Nothing says "Easter" in an Italian-American household like ricotta cheese.

Why? I really don't know. BUT, I think it has something to do with the versatility of ricotta. You can make it savory or sweet, appetizer, entree or dessert. Or all three. Or five. But who's counting?

You are. And you should be. Just don't count the calories in these Ricotta Fritters. It's pointless. Between the ricotta cheese (full fat, please) and peanut oil you probably have enough to induce cardiac arrest in the newly risen Lord. 

Is that blasphemous? Not at all. Just the facts, here. 

So while there are many seasonal Italian desserts that would be appropriate for Easter (ex:Ricotta cheesecakestrufoli), the FACT of the matter is that these fritters will induce multiple Hallelujah's from your Easter crowd. They're even small enough to hide in those plastic Easter eggs if you like.

What You Need:
8 oz Fresh Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
6 tablespoons flour
20 grams or 3/4 oz butter, softened to room temperature
Grated zest from 1 lemon
salt

For frying: 
3 cups of peanut oil
An "ugly" pot
(An ugly pot is a cheap, deep pot reserved for unsightly tasks like frying. You really don't want to wreck one of your nicey-nice All-Clad variates with spitting hot peanut oil. Trust me.)
Thermometer (the oil should read 350 degrees)

Optional Toppings:
Honey with limoncello
Confectioners sugar

What To Do:
Put the ricotta in a bowl with the two eggs and mix until well combined.

Add the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, working it into the ricotta with a whisk.

Add in the butter, lemon zest and a pinch of salt, mixing well. If the mixture is too runny, you can add another tablespoon of flour.

Set the batter aside and let it rest for 2 hours. We didn't do this. We have no patience.

Heat the peanut oil in your ugly pot to 350 degrees.

Test the heat by dropping a tiny ball of the batter into the oil. If it floats immediately to the surface and starts to turn golden brown, you are ready to rock and roll!

Drop the batter into the oil a tablespoon at a time, pushing the batter off of the spoon with a spatula.

Don't crowd your ugly pot! Fritters need room to breath and fry! Give 'em some space.

When the fritters are an even golden brown, fish them out of the oil with a slotted spoon.

Set them on some parchment paper to cool.

At this point, you can either dust them with confectioners sugar, or gently heat up some honey with a splash of limoncello in it. After your liquored-up honey is warm and runny, drizzle the fritters with it.

Eat these little babies immediately. I can't think of a reason not to...

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

We originally made this for John's birthday which fell on Easter Sunday last year. This recipe is from Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz.

What You Need:

Serves 12

12 oz of almonds finely ground

6 eggs, separated

6 tablespoons sugar

8 oz of bittersweet chocolate

2 sticks of butter

10 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup sugar

What To Do: 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter and flour a 10 inch springform pan.  Line the bottom with wax paper or parchment paper.  Butter and flour the lining.

In a food processor grind the almonds in 3 batches pulsing each with 2 T sugar for a total of 6 T of sugar.  Set aside.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and butter together.

In a mixing bowl beat the egg yolks until lemon colored and then gradually beat in the 10 T sugar.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg yolks.  Stir to mix and fold in the ground almonds and stir will.

In a clean bowl beat the egg whites with the ¼ c of sugar until they are stiff.  The fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake on a cookie sheet for 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes and remove the sides  from the springform pan.

When the cake has cooked turn it upside down onto a serving plate and dust with confectioners sugar.

Italian Lemon Knot Cookies

What You Need:

Cookies:
5 cups of flour
6 eggs - well beaten
1/2 lb of butter at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
5 teaspoons of baking powder

Icing:
1/2 cup Confectioners sugar - more if needed
1 teaspoon of Limoncello
water if needed

Garnish: multicolored, round sprinkles

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slightly grease a cookie sheet, or line it with parchment.

Beat together butter, cream cheese and sugar in a standing or hand-held mixer until light and creamy.

Add in the eggs and the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and mix to combine.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet. You may have to add more flour if it's an especially humid day.

The dough should come together easily and not be too sticky. You need to be able to roll the dough and tie it into knots.

Start grabbing pinches of the dough right out of the bowl. Roll them on a board that is VERY lightly floured. Try not to add too much flour at this point. Roll them until the strands are about 1/2 inch thick and about 4 inches long.

Tie the the dough strands into simple knots and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, until they are light golden in color and the bottoms are beginning to turn golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the icing:

Measure the Confectioners sugar into a small bowl. Pour the Limoncello over the sugar and whisk together until combined. You don't want this mixture to be too runny - it will zoom right off your cookie! If you need to thicken it, just add more Confectioners sugar. If you need to go a little thinner, add a touch of water (you don't want to overwhelm your cookie eaters with Limoncello at this point).

Drizzle the icing over the tops of the cookies and decorate with the multicolored sprinkles. The icing will dry so that you can store them all together in a happy little tin. Or take them to work with you in a plastic bag. Just don't accidentally sit on them like I did. Sat-on cookies don't have the same appeal. My co-workers still ate all of them, though....

Makes about 80 cookies (so you might want to share).

Chicken Liver Pate

Crust - What You Need:
8 ounces of cream cheese
8 ounces of unsalted butter
¼ c sour cream or heavy cream
1 ¼ t salt
2 ½ cups of flour.

Crust - What To Do:
Combine cream cheese and butter and add sour cream and salt and pulse then add the flour.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Pate - What You Need:
¾ pound of chicken livers cut into chunks
1/3 c madiera wine
5 T butter
2 slices of bacon drained and chopped
3 cloves of garlic crushed
2 large shallots minced
2 T cognac
¾ pound smoked ham ground
¾ pound ground pork
2 t. thyme
1 t dried basil
1 cup fresh parsley minced
2 large eggs beaten
2 T heavy cream
salt and pepper
1 egg beaten with 1T milk for glaze

Pate - What To Do:
Soak chicken liver pieces in madiera wine for 30 minutes.  Drain.  Melt butter in fry pan and add liver pieces, bacon, garlic and shallots and cook until livers are cooked but still pink. Warm the cognac and add to livers.

Add ground ham, pork, thyme and basil.  Mix and cook over medium heat stirring frequently.  About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add parsley, eggs and cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.

Roll out 1/3 of the dough into a rectangle about 1/8 in thick.  Trim edges so they are even.  Spread one third of the pate on one half of the pastry leaving 1” border.  Fold over and press edges with a fork and brush with egg/milk glaze. Repeat.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven on a lightly buttered baking sheet for 25 minutes.

Note: You can freeze these for up to 3 weeks.  Do not defrost before baking but add 10 minutes to the baking time.

Thursday
Jan102013

Semifreddo Snapshot

As many of you know, I (Elana) have been practicing my food photography. Learning a new skill takes time. Time and desserts. Case in point: this Brandy and Mascarpone Semifreddo from Food and Wine Magazine which Marmo and I made for Christmas dessert.

Semifreddo is Italian for "half cold." It's essentially an icecream without all the churning business. Like a half-assed ice cream, in terms of preparation, but whole-assed in terms of flavor.

How's that for a description? Anyway, even though we made this for Christmas dinner, semifreddo is something you can make all year long. This specific version called for fruits steeped in wine, which gave it a wintery flair. But you could use strawberries in June, or peaches and nectarines in August.

A semifreddo is ALL about adaptation. It is also all about sticking to whatever container you freeze it in. That's why, while I will give you the link to the original recipe, I have the following notes to make:

1. Line the container you plan on freezing this half-assed dessert in with plastic wrap. Unless you plan on scooping it out like whole-assed ice cream.

2. Make sure you let the egg mixture cool completely. Don't skimp on this part.

3. If you chill the bowl in which you are whipping your cream, it will whip up more quickly.

4. The picture from Food and Wine looks so amazing, but I have no idea how they got it to maintain the mold shape so perfectly. We had to make our twice. The first time we froze it into a giant mold sans plastic wrap. It is now permanently stuck in there.

5. Use small forms for individual servings. It's a lot easier. 

Tuesday
Apr102012

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake for John's Birthday

It's John's birthday again! Well, it's John's birthday on Thursday, the 12th. But I'm posting early. I like to stay ahead of him, keep him on his toes. 

Some of you may wonder what we do to celebrate John's birthday. Well....that gets dicey. John hates his birthday!

Whaaaaaat? Yes, yes - it's true! I just don't understand this hatred. So, I like to go around him and plan things for him that he would ordinarily, left to his own devices, ignore, avoid and fear. I'm a good sister, yes?

Yes.

For his 29th birthday I planned a beer pong surprise party. Remember that part about being a good sister? I am one, clearly.

Last year, I respected his wishes and didn't throw a party, but I embarrassed him publicly on the blog, stating the various things that made him a great brother. You can read last year's testimonial here.

This year, I am taking him out to dinner. He hasn't decided where he wants to dine yet. But I would like to invite you all to post your birthday wishes on this blog. I'm going to pick a few random commenters and give out a prize.

While you're waiting for winners to be announced, you might want to make this cake. You can make it for someone's birthday, or you can invent a birthday, as the cake is that good, you might not want to wait for a special occasion. Marmo made this for Easter Sunday, and we all had to restrain ourselves from diving face-first into it.

This recipe is from Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz.

What You Need:

Serves 12

12 oz of almonds finely ground

6 eggs, separated

6 tablespoons sugar

8 oz of bittersweet chocolate

2 sticks of butter

10 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup sugar

What To Do: 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter and flour a 10 inch springform pan.  Line the bottom with wax paper or parchment paper.  Butter and flour the lining.

In a food processor grind the almonds in 3 batches pulsing each with 2 T sugar for a total of 6 T of sugar.  Set aside.

In a double boiler melt the chocolate and butter together.

In a mixing bowl beat the egg yolks until lemon colored and then gradually beat in the 10 T sugar.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg yolks.  Stir to mix and fold in the ground almonds and stir will.

In a clean bowl beat the egg whites with the ¼ c of sugar until they are stiff.  The fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake on a cookie sheet for 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes and remove the sides  from the springform pan.

When the cake has cooked turn it upside down onto a serving plate and dust with confectioners sugar.