March: Roasted Pears

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Buon giorno!

Italians have long ended their meals with a simple fruit or fruit and cheese. They seem to like their sweets or “dolci” in the morning with an espresso. With our ROASTED PEARS, we take our fruit dessert to another level with little sweetness from the added Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts.

Not a drop of sugar is needed during the preparation of these pears, making them a very nutritious dessert when enjoyed with no added embellishment. The pears sweeten themselves through caramelization during roasting. A lovely slice of Gorgonzola would be enough to add for any Italian looking for a light finale.

The crema, very much like a French Crème Anglaise,  is a luscious liquid custard, made from egg yolks, and in this instance is laced with Bourbon. It is a beautiful accompaniment to the caramelized pear. It keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.

The Candied Walnuts add some crunch and interest. The recipe makes about 8 oz so there are plenty of these leftover for use in salads, other desserts, or just for a snack. They are fabulous alone in a bowl with cocktails.

Even with the added crema and candied nuts, this remains a light and interesting finish to a meal.

Pear with creme finish 2 - best

These are such favorites at my house that roasted pears are usually always found in our frig for those moments when the craving for a sweet drives us crazy, but we don’t want to bust the diet. They are simply fantastic served over salad greens.



Serves: 4

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes


4 Bosc or Red Pears

Olive Oil


Make sure your pears are clean and free of grocery stickers. Leave the skins on.

Slice off each end. Then slice in half vertically.

Using a spoon, gently scoop out the core.

Place the pears face down on a foil lined pan sprayed with Pam.

Brush each pear half with olive oil.


Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a fork slides through easily.

Cool .  They keep for days in a closed container refrigerated. I like to warm them a little in the microwave before serving.


Makes: about 2 cups

Prep: About 20 minutes


1 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Heavy Cream

2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1/2 C. Sugar

4 Large Egg Yolks

Pinch of salt

2 Tbsp. Bourbon


Cook the Milk, Cream, and extract in a saucepan until bubbles form on the sides. Remove from heat and cool a little.

Creme 1

Place the sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a bowl. Whisk them together well.

Creme 3

Then add a little of the slightly cooled milk and cream to the yolk mixture and whisk quickly to blend so that egg yolks do not cook. Add a little more and whisk again.

Then add this all back to the remaining milk mixture in the pan and whisk.

Heat this, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, so that it makes a line that holds when you run your finger down the back of the spoon.

Creme 4

Remove from heat and add the Bourbon – Stir and let cool. Strain through a fine sieve to get any solids out.

Refrigerate this custard in a bowl or covered container.

The next day the custard should be much thicker. This will keep a few days in the refrigerator.


Makes: 8 oz.

Prep: 25 minutes


8 oz. Walnut halves or pieces

2 large Egg Whites

1/2 C. Sugar

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

Pinch of Nutmeg

1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon

2 Tsp. Vanilla extract


Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, pepper, spices, and extract in a bowl.

Candied Walnuts 1

Add the walnuts and toss, coating well.

Spray a piece of foil to cover a sheet pan with Pam.

Pour the walnut mixture out on the foil, spreading into a single layer.

Candied Walnuts 2

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, turning with a spoon or spatula about half way through cooking.

Remove from oven and toss a little with a fork. The nuts will crisp as they cool.

Candied Walnuts finish

Once cooled, keep them in a covered container. They keep several weeks.

The ROASTED PEARS  are so easy and can be prepared ahead. The finished dessert is beautiful to serve and memorable.

SERVING IDEAS: Serve the roasted pears simply or with a slice of Gorgonzola or a creamy Blue Cheese. OR – Drizzle each pear with a little Bourbon on a plate and light it for a little flambe!

Pears 5

OR – if served with the Bourbon Crema and Candied Walnuts – drizzle with a little Dark Chocolate or Balsamic Glaze. The Bourbon Crema is also delicious with pound cake. The Candied Walnuts are wonderful on salads or with cocktails.

So many options! You will love this one!


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Blueberry Limoncello Crumble

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Blueberry Limoncello Crumble finish with script

Buon giorno!

Let me rock your sweet tooth a bit with this little gem: Blueberry Limoncello Crumble. The hot days of summer just aren’t memorable enough without the sweet explosion of a plump baked blueberry popping in your mouth. This dessert is special – not only because it is wonderfully delicious but also because the resulting little cups of goodness are so easy and quick to make.

Every summer growing up, I can remember looking forward to the blueberries coming into season. They suddenly were incredibly sweet. Then the pies ensued – the cobblers – the pancakes – the muffins. That kind of memory is palpable and never quite goes away, all wrapped up in sights, smells, even words – the triggers that take us back decades to a simpler time, made real again by sweet aromas and tastes in our own kitchens. Here is one of those!


Serves: 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes



3 Large Lemon Biscotti – crushed to a coarse crumble – Make your own or buy them

To make your own RECIPE

1/3 Cup Sugar

4 Tbsp. Room Temperature butter cut in pieces


Place above ingredients in a bowl and blend with fork or even better with your fingers.

Set aside.



4 Cups Fresh Blueberries

2/3 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

Dash Cinnamon

Dash Salt

2 Tbsp. Flour

1/3 Cup Limoncello

One Squeeze of a fresh lemon


Spray 4 ramekins or souffle cups with Pam or butter them.

In a bowl, mix Blueberries, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, flour, salt. Then add the Limoncello and fresh lemon juice, gently folding in.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 1

Divide among the 4 ramekins.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 2

Top with the crumbled biscotti mixture.

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble 3

Place the ramekins on a foil lined pan to catch drippings.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you want the effect of spillover with the berries dripping over as you see in the photo above – bake about 5 minutes more.

 BLUEBERRY LIMONCELLO CRUMBLE is quite delicious – especially with a scoop of gelato! So easy – so good!

Blueberry Limoncello Crumble extra finish with script



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Key Lime Gelato

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Key Lime Gelato finish 1

Buon giorno!

Welcome to Margaritaville! Errr – Linda’s Italian Table with a lime twist?? Whatever! It is the warm weather season, and I, for one, am ready for a chilly dessert. This KEY LIME GELATO (with or without Macadamia Nuts – up to you) is just pie in a bowl!!

I suggest making extra because this stuff is gonna disappear fast! It is creamy and limey – made with Key Lime Juice which is bottled and easy to find usually in the baking section at your market. OR.. if you have extra time and access – get yourself some fresh key limes and squeeze your own juice! Either way – if you like the mild lime flavor of Key Limes or Key Lime Pie – marone, you are in for a treat here!

We added just 2-3 drops of green food coloring to give it a little nudge towards a tropical mode. You will NOT want to add more as a tiny bit of food coloring goes a long way, and it is NOT St. Partick’s Day! Besides – Key Limes, as you probably know, are more yellow than green.

A twisty idea on a beverage: Try this gelato whirled in your blender with a little vodka or rum – Serve in a pretty martini or wine glass with a twist of Key Lime or mint.  Good stuff!

So – “put de lime in de coconut and turn yourself around” (sigh.. sometimes I just cannot resist)



(with or without Macadamia Nuts)

Makes: about a quart

Prep: about an hour total + freezing time


2 Cups Heavy Cream

1 Cup Whole Milk

6 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar

Dash of Kosher Salt (important to bring out flavor)

1/3 Cup Key Lime Juice (do NOT use regular lime juice) – see above text for directions in finding it

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

2-3 Drops – no more! – green food coloring

1 Cup Very Coarsely chopped Macadamia Nuts (optional)


Heat the cream and milk in a pan until bubbles form on the side. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.

Place egg yolks in a bowl along with the sugar and salt – Then beat until light in color. The mixture will thicken.(Just a couple of minutes)

Key Lime Gelato 1

Add a little of the heated milk and cream to the yolks while whisking at same time. Then add a little more – whisking still. Now you can add the yolks mixture to the pan – whisk – and put back on the heat at medium.

Cook, stirring constantly, so that it does not separate, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can make a little “road” through the coating with your finger.

Key Lime Gelato 2

This is a custard! Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour into a bowl.

Then add the vanilla extract, key lime juice, and food coloring. Stir in.

Key Lime Gelato 3

Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight is best. It will become thick.

Key Lime Gelato 4

When ready to make – pour mixture into your ice cream maker and follow your machine directions.

When it is finished or towards the end of the process – add the nuts if using. Incorporate. Note: I chill my Macadamias before adding so as not to raise the temperature of the gelato when added.

Key Lime Gelato 5

Freeze for several hours until ready to eat. Gelato is best eaten slightly soft. So if your gelato freezes hard – let it sit out for a bit to soften.

Key Lime Gelato 6

There it is! KEY LIME GELATO!  A little Italy in the tropics!


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Strawberries and Ricotta

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Strawberries and Ricotta finish with script

Buon giorno!

Dessert is not a dirty word. You heard it here first. Dessert also does not have to be heavy or high in calories to fill that “sweet void” you feel after a meal. Finally, a good dessert does not have to be chocolate. An old Tuscan sweet – STRAWBERRIES AND RICOTTA is one dessert that does not take a back seat to any. It is light and satisfies your need for a that special something you need to complete a lovely meal. Whether it is  Valentine’s Day, a special meal, or a Saturday night treat, this dessert will complete your menu. It doesn’t hurt to serve it in a fancy glass to make it extra special.

The one thing to remember with this one is to serve it immediately after you prepare it, so that liquid does not form and make it all less appetizing. The best thing about it is that it is so easy. Hand it to the Tuscans for keeping it simple.

So sit back and relax. The dessert is taken care of. You can go ahead and worry about something else!


Serves: 4

Prep: about 20 minutes + time to “marinate” the berries


8 oz. Fresh Ripe Strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and sliced

2 1/2 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 C. Rum, Limoncello, or Vin Santo

1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk Ricotta

2 Additional Tbsp. Sugar

2 Egg Whites – whipped until stiff

Fresh Basil and Extra Whole Strawberries for garnish


Add the sugar and your choice of Rum, Limoncello, or Vin Santo to the sliced strawberries. Toss, cover, and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours.

Berries 1

In the meantime, drain the ricotta of any extra liquid by pressing through a strainer. (Sometimes there is no liquid to drain)

When ready to serve, drain the berries and discard the soaking liquid, (Rum, Limoncello, or Vin Santo),add them along with the additional sugar to the ricotta and combine.

Berries 2

Fold in the whipped egg whites.

Berries 3

Spoon into glasses, garnish and serve immediately or within a few minutes. Do not let this sit in refrigerator for hours as it will begin to liquefy.

STRAWBERRIES AND RICOTTA is light and..well.. rather heavenly!


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Pumpkin Pecan Gelato

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Pumpkin Gelato finish with script

Buon giorno!

There is nothing more satisfying than a creamy tasty bowl of gelato. Here is one that is bound to please. PUMPKIN PECAN GELATO is a delicious addition to any dessert for Thanksgiving or Christmas – or just anytime in the fall when the flavor of pumpkin is on everyone’s “craving list”. It is like eating a creamy bowl of pumpkin pie with a little crunch—only better – just because it’s gelato!  You must exercise a little self control with this one because the custard that you need to make for this is as amazing as the finished product. NO TASTING!


Makes: about a quart

Prep: 30 minutes


6 Large Egg Yolks

1/2 C. Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 C. White Sugar

1 1/2 C. Heavy Cream

1 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Pumpkin Puree

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

3/4 Tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pinch Salt

3-4 Tbsp. Rum (optional)

1 C. Coarsely Chopped Pecans


Heat the milk and cream in a pan until bubbles form on the side. Remove from heat and cool while proceeding.

Beat together the yolks and sugars until combined and lighter in color. This will be quite thick.

Pumpkin gelato 1

Pour a little of the warm cream and milk mixture into the yolks whisking in. Then add a little more while continuing to whisk. Then add the rest and whisk in.

Now add the pumpkin puree, extract, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and completely combine with the whisk.

Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and cook slowly over medium to medium high heat until thickened and it coats the back of a wooden spoon – just a few quick minutes.

Pumpkin gelato 2

Remove from heat and add the rum, if using.

Pour into a bowl.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl with the wrap right on top of the surface of the custard. This prevents a skin from forming. Now chill several hours or preferable overnight.

Pumpkin gelato 3

Pour into your ice cream machine and follow the directions for making ice cream or gelato that are appropriate to your machine, adding the chopped pecans towards the end.

Pumpkin gelato 4

In motion! Adding the pecans!

Pumpkin gelato 5

Place in the freezer several hours until ready to serve.

Oh Boy! Is this Pumpkin Pecan Gelato good!! –so good that you will want to serve it again and again!


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Mocha Torta

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Mocha Torta finish with script

Buon giorno!

In Italy, sweets are often enjoyed at breakfast with espresso. Here’s one that will be a favorite no matter what time of day you decide to serve it. MOCHA TORTA (MOCHA CAKE) is both coffee (espresso) and dessert in one. As with many Italian “dolci “ this delicious cake is not overly sweet and is made with ground almonds instead of all flour. It is a luscious combination of espresso and cocoa, resulting in a lovely cake. Servings can be enhanced by a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. My favorite way to serve it is with a scoop of either Bourbon or Coffee Gelato. The best part is that it is not a difficult or time consuming dessert to make.


(Mocha Cake)

Makes: one 9” cake

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: 30-40 minutes


1 Cup Ground almonds (toasted)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)

2 Tbsp. Instant Espresso Powder

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 cup Whole Milk

1 Tbsp. Kahlua (optional)


Powdered Sugar

Extra Cocoa powder


Grease a 9” Spring Form pan

Toast your almonds in a single layer under the broiler.

Grind them finely in a food processor and place them in a large bowl.

Add to the bowl: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and mix together.

Mocha Torta 1

Add Milk and Kahlua and mix until smooth.

Mocha Torta 2

Mocha Torta 3

Pour into your prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until just firm.

Mocha Torta 4

Cool a bit and remove the outer side of the spring form pan and place the cake on a serving platter.

Mix together a little powdered sugar and a little cocoa. Sift this over the top of your cake and voila! You are ready to serve.

It is best served warm and the day it is made – but you can definitely make the torta a day ahead, if you like. Keep it covered and but NOT refrigerated.

To each serving of your MOCHA TORTA  – add a little whipped cream or gelato. You can also dust each plate with a little of the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa for added flavor and effect. This is really lovely!


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Decadent Dark Chocolate Semifreddo with Pistachio Bark

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Semifreddo featured finish with script

Buon giorno!

Hearts and masks share the stage this week with Carnevale and Valentine’s Day occupying the same space on the calendar. DECADENT DARK CHOCOLATE SEMIFREDDO WITH PISTACHIO BARK serves both of these events rather well with its rich dramatic presentation.

I can almost hear the comments Semi-what? Freddo? Fredo? No, not THAT FREDO!! Disclaimer: this amazing dessert has nothing to do with the hapless character from the Godfather – Fredo! But it is very much Italian – yes!

It is a cold served dessert that is very much like ice cream – but NO ICE CREAM MAKER IS USED! Semifreddo means “half cold”. It is meant to be served from the freezer, but slightly soft kind of like a mousse, and made in a similar way to frozen mousse. It is easy to make really – a blend of whipped ingredients, some shiny and beautiful dark chocolate, and this particular Semifreddo has added decadence with the addition of Dark Chocolate Pistachio Bark. Just look at the slice – doesn’t it resemble a slab of lovely marble? Much better tasting – I can assure you!

Whether a masked and mysterious figure celebrating Carnevale or just one looking for love in all the right places on Valentine’s Day – this dessert is for you!




1  C. Shelled Pistachios

8 oz. Dark Chocolate


Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with Pam.

Spread the pistachios out on the paper in about an 8 x 12 inch rectangular space.

Bark 1

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Stir.

Pour the chocolate over the pistachios and smooth and spread with a spatula. Push the nuts inward as you do this to try to fill the gaps. Don’t worry if you don’t fill all the gaps.

Bark 2

Let the bark harden. I like to place the pan in the freezer for a few minutes for a more rapid process. You can also use the refrigerator for this, but the freezer works faster.

When the bark is hard, break it apart with your hands.

Bark 3

Put some of the bark – enough to make 1 3/4 C. in a plastic bag and hit the bag with a mallet or something hard to break the pieces into smaller more crumbly ones. You will use this for the semifreddo. Have fun eating the remaining bark you don’t use in the dessert, or give it to someone as a gift in a pretty box with a bow. THEY WILL LOVE YOU! This stuff is great! It keeps nicely in the refrigerator also.


Makes: 1 9×5 loaf pan (about 10 slices)

Prep: 45 minutes


3 Large Egg Whites

3/4 C. Sugar

2 C. Heavy Whipping Cream

4 oz. Mascarpone Cheese

6 oz. Dark Chocolate broken into pieces

3 Tbsp. Butter

1 Tsp. Almond Extract (optional – for a little almond flavor)

1  3/4 C. Pistachio Bark Broken crumbled into small pieces (recipe below)


Spray inside of a 9 x 5 loaf pan with Pam cooking spray. Then line the pan with plastic wrap so that there is an overhang of a few inches.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water. Stir and set aside to cool a bit.

Beat the egg whites with the sugar until stiff. Set aside.

Whip the cream and mascarpone together in a mixer.

Now combine the chocolate and the egg whites – folding in.

Semifreddo 2

Follow by gently folding in the whipped cream and mascarpone.

Gently add the pistachio bark pieces and fold in.

Semifreddo 3

Pour mixture into the prepared and lined loaf pan filling all the spaces. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Semifreddo 4

Fold the plastic wrap overhang over the top and add another piece of plastic wrap to cover well.

Freeze for at least 4 hours – but ideally overnight.

When ready to serve – remove the plastic wrap covering and invert onto a plate or board. If frozen solid, place the loaf pan in a larger pan with about an inch of warm water for a minute. Then try inverting again. Peel off the plastic wrap lining. If solidly frozen, you will want to let it sit out just a few minutes to reach that “semi frozen state”. It should not be soft – but not rock hard either.

Semifreddo finish 1 with script 2

Slice and serve. Slicing is made easier by dipping the knife in a glass of warm water. Garnish with some of the remaining pistachio bark. Serving with chocolate sauce is always an option, but you might find it is not necessary – so good on its own!

One taste of this DECADENT DARK CHOCOLATE SEMIFREDDO WITH PISTACHIO BARK and you won’t want to save it just for this season of costume and the lovelorn. Make it anytime you crave chocolate or want to thrill your guests!


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Cranberry Almond Cake

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Cake - Finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

Almonds, almond flavor, and almond paste have long been a fixture among Italian dessert preparations. It is hard to find a list or assembly of Italian desserts that do not have a couple of “dolci” among them, made from almonds or carry the almond scent and flavor. Those familiar with the famous desserts from Little Italy in New York City can attest to the almond cakes and pastries that are always displayed in the restaurant and shop dessert cases. CRANBERRY ALMOND CAKE will bring all of those almond dessert memories back to the forefront for you.

This luscious cake is surprisingly simple to make considering the complex flavor and texture it bears. Is it a pastry — or a cake? More Pastry, I think! The consistency of this cake is quite reminiscent of the Italian pastries you may remember, especially when you take that first bite – rich, soft, moist, sweet. The almond flavor is prominent. The added cranberries give it a holiday flair.

The use of almond paste capturing that “pastry quality” is the key to this dessert. Without it – it would be just another cake. Instead, the use of the almond paste kicks it into another arena altogether and defines it as more of a pastry. Your guests will LOVE this!

As an added benefit, the deep almond aroma will give your kitchen a totally undeniable Italian essence.

Let the pleasure begin – allow yourself to indulge!


Makes: 1 9-10 inch cake


2 8 oz. Cans Almond Paste

Zest of a Fresh Lemon

1/2 C. Sugar

3/4 C. Unsalted Butter cut into bits

3 Eggs

1/2 Tsp. Almond Extract

1/2 C. Flour

1 C. Fresh Cranberries – coarsely chopped

1/3 C. Candied Lemon Peel – found in markets at holiday time or make your own – Recipe: HERE

Sliced Almonds for Top of Cake

Brown Sugar for sprinkling

Sifted Powdered Sugar for Topping


In food processor – mix the almond paste, lemon zest, and sugar.

Cake 1

Add butter and combine.

Add eggs and almond extract – mix again.

Add flour – mix.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and fold in the cranberries and candied lemon peel.

Cake 2

Pour batter into a greased 9-10 inch springform pan.

Cake 3

Place sliced almonds on the top of the cake and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. It may be soft in the middle but that’s fine. Let it sit in refrigerator overnight and it will be fine. Remember — it is more of a pastry than a cake!

Cake 4

Cool and remove side of springform.

Cake 5

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Cake 6

A serving suggestion for your CRANBERRY ALMOND CAKE: Garnish with fresh cranberries and serve with a scoop of Honey Gelato – Recipe: HERE


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Lemon Mascarpone Cream

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Lemon Mascarpone Tarts with script

Buon giorno!

This one is good anytime, but I especially like it in the warmer months when I look for a sweet that is not heavy.  LEMON MASCARPONE CREAM is a light and fluffy dessert that ends a meal without having everyone fall asleep afterward. Every time I serve it, especially in the summer, it’s a hit.

It is also a rather versatile sweet that you can use in so many ways. You will see it here served as a filling for little cookie tart shells and also in a glass as a sort of parfait. I often serve it with pound cake or over berries as well.

In addition to being a light dessert, it is an easy and quick one to make – all the better!


Serves 4 in glasses

Fills a dozen or more little tart shells depending on size

Prep: about 15 minutes


4 Oz. Mascarpone

1 Cup Heavy Cream

2 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 C. Lemon Curd (make your own or purchase it in baking section of grocer)

1 Tbsp. Limoncello Liqueur (optional)

2 Tbsp. Candied Ginger – chopped small


1/4 C. Toasted Sliced Almonds

Whole Fresh Raspberries

Try some fresh mint for garnish


Using a mixer, beat the mascarpone about a minute.

Lemon Mascarpone Parfait and Tarts 1

Add the cream and sugar and whip until it is fluffy.

Using a spatula, by hand fully incorporate.

If using the Limoncello – add it to the Lemon Curd and mix together with a spoon.

Lemon Mascarpone Parfait and Tarts 2

Now add the Lemon Curd to the cream mixture using a spatula to fold.

Lemon Mascarpone Parfait and Tarts 4

Add the candied ginger or almonds and fold in.

Lemon Mascarpone Parfait and Tarts 3

Chill until ready to serve. This should be made the same day you plan to serve.

When ready to serve – if using the glasses, spoon some of the lemon cream into the glass and top with some raspberries.

Then add some more lemon cream – and then a few raspberries.

Add some fresh mint for garnish.

Parfait - finish with script

If using as a filling for tart shells – fill the shells a couple of hours before serving and top with a raspberry.

Tart shells can be found pre-made at the grocer or make your own!

Serve your LEMON MASCARPONE CREAM with some chocolate and a small glass of Limoncello for a perfect pairing!


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Caramel Stracciatella Gelato

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Gelato at its best!

Caramel Stracia - finish with script

Buon giorno!

When does gelato reach the max?—When it takes a traditional recipe to a level that might just be indescribable. That is how I feel about CARAMEL STRACCIATELLA GELATO. This gelato belongs among the ranks of the finest in flavor and creamiest in consistency. It is just – well – the MAX!

Stracciatella? When I was growing up in our Italian kitchen in upstate NY – Stracciatella  was soup! It was a great soup really, originating in the Lazio region of Italy in the 1500’s, where the family of my mother, Loretta, came from.  My mother was an absolute MASTER at making it, so delicate and light. It was so good – that it was reserved for first course status on Christmas Day. It was a wonderful delicate chicken broth with tiny egg pieces in it – thus the stracciatella or “little rags”. It also contained tiny meatballs.

Stracciatella gelato: As time passed, a famous maker of gelato, named Enrico Panattoni from Bergamo, Italy, got the idea to make a gelato fashioned after the soup. This gelato, Stracciatella, became the subject of epic stories –  and became one of the most popular gelato flavors worldwide. It was a simple vanilla with tiny chocolate shavings or pieces. Sounds simple? Actually it is!

This Stracciatella gelato is quite different, courtesy of a very intense caramel  flavor in its egg custard base. Then when the dark chocolate shavings are added—well – the rest will be history – your history. Just try it! It is simply divine!


Makes: about a quart


2 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Heavy Cream

8 Egg Yolks

1 C. Sugar

2 Tbsp. Water

1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt

3/4 C. Dark Chocolate Shavings (use a good dark chocolate for this)

More Dark Chocolate Shavings or a wedge of Dark Chocolate for garnish


Beat egg yolks like you would for egg nog until they are very light and almost batter-like.

1 Salted-Car.-Gelato.jpg-2_thumb

Heat milk and cream until just bubbly on the sides. Let it sit a minute or two.

2 Salted-Car.-Gelato-5_thumb

Then mix the milk and cream to the beaten yolks – just a little at first to raise the temperature of the yolks. Then stirring constantly, add in the rest of the milk gradually.

Add the mixture back to the pot used for the milk and cream.

In another pot, melt the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. and is melted. Stir frequently.

Then turn up the heat and cook until the sugar liquid  begins to turn a DARK Brown color. It will be a little solid on top. You can just crack through it with your spoon to see the dark caramel liquid. This darkness gives the base its intense caramel flavor.

3 Salted-Car.-Gelato-4_thumb

Add it to the egg/milk mixture. BE VERY CAREFUL and do this gradually as it may spatter.

Cook this over low- medium until it coats the back of the spoon – stirring all the while. You are really making a custard here. You must keep stirring and watch that it doesn’t curdle. As soon as it coats the back of the spoon – just a few minutes –  turn off the heat.

4 Caramel Stracia

Some like to strain out the solids – I almost never do!

Chill this gelato base over night. It will become quite thick like a custard.

Just before putting this mixture in your ice cream maker – add the salt and stir in.

5 Caramel Stracia custard

Add it to your ice cream maker and make the gelato according to your instructions for your individual machine.

6 Salted-Car.-Gelato

Near the end, when your gelato is almost finished churning – add in the chocolate shavings and churn them in.

7 Caramel Stracciatella Gelato in machine

8 gelato ready for freezer

Chill the gelato until you are ready to serve.

Serve your Caramel Stracciatella Gelato  with a garnish of dark chocolate shavings or a wedge of good dark chocolate. This gelato is sooo amazing that it needs nothing else!!



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Honey Gelato

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Honey Gelato finish with script

Buon giorno!

I love this time of year because, I can indulge my fondness for gelato – my favorite dessert. In my mind it fills the bill as “food of the gods” and certainly one of the wonders of the kitchen. Actually, I think it should be a classified as a food group. If gelato is the “food of the gods” then  HONEY GELATO should be the nectar.

This gelato is so simple  – so uncomplicated – so basic as it might be overlooked for something – shall we say – more fancy? BIG mistake! This is one of the best flavors I know. Of course, there is nothing like a good vanilla, but HONEY GELATO is really something special. This HONEY GELATO is definitely the creamiest and best one I have had.

I recommend using a really good local honey for this. The flavor of the honey is so essential to this gelato that the honey you choose WILL make a difference. I simply love this, and you will too!

So crank up that ice cream maker and let’s go!


Makes: about a quart

Cook: about 15 –20 minutes


2 C. Whole Milk

1 C. Heavy Cream

6 Egg Yolks

2/3 C. Good local honey

3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

Pinch Kosher Salt


Heat the milk, cream, honey, and salt til hot and bubbling on the edges and the honey is dissolved in a heavy pan. Stir a little. Let this sit a few minutes while you prepare the yolks.

Honey gelato 1

Beat the egg yolks with the brown sugar until light and thickened.

Honey gelato 2

Honey gelato 3

Add a little of the hot milk mixture to the yolks while whisking vigorously to prevent curdling. Add a little more and repeat the whisking. Then add the rest of the hot milk mixture to the yolks and whisk well.

Return this incorporated mixture to your pan and heat to medium and stirring constantly, cook until the liquid coats the back of a wooden spoon. This takes a few minutes and it will be slightly thickened. Additional thickening will take place when refrigerated.

Honey gelato 4

Pour into a large bowl.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap right down on the surface of the mixture in the bowl so that the surface is covered. This will prevent a skin from forming.

Honey gelato 5

Refrigerate this overnight. It will become very thick!

When ready to make the gelato, use your ice cream maker according to directions.

Place in freezer after until you are ready to serve.

To serve – drizzle each serving of HONEY GELATO with a little honey if you like – add some fresh mint- head straight for the patio! For an added extra – serve a little wedge of blue cheese on the side. You are ready to experience something heavenly!



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Ligurian Lemon Cake

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Ligurian Lemon Cake with script

Buon giorno!

I am always more excited to post something that is a personal favorite. This is one of those recipes. LIGURIAN LEMON CAKE makes me happy on so many levels. It is a cake I always enjoy serving especially in spring and summer. The lemony flavor seems to suit these seasons more – and of course the raspberries are in season. Another reason this cake makes my heart beat a little faster – it is made with olive oil – just a little bit better for us. This cake is so moist, and if you are a lemon lover – this one’s for you!

The Ligurian thing: This cake is Ligurian in origin. Liguria is a coastal region located in the northwestern portion of Italy. So many great recipes and ingredients seem to come from this region. Because it is coastal, there is an emphasis on fish. When you think of Liguria – it’s SEAFOOD  SEAFOOD SEAFOOD! Some say the aroma of brine from the sea permeates the air there. They frequently use salt cod .  They are known for their fish salad, cappon magro, which includes an assortment of fresh fish and vegetables. Probably it’s most well known item is Pesto. No, not the slimy stuff you buy in the jar that gives it a bad name – but the fresh made sauce, usually made with a mortar and pestle but also can be easily concocted in your blender. The fresh basil, fresh garlic and good ingredients make this sauce irresistible.They have their own pizza, Pizza all’Andrea, made with garlic cloves, anchovies, black olives and the wonderful Ligurian olive oil of fame. This pizza is named for Andrea Doria – the noted admiral from this region who is said to have been an admirer of the recipe. One can’t forget the delectable Salsa di Noci – walnut sauce which is often served with the filled pasta pansoti.

Can’t forget the dolci! The Ligurians have their sweet dishes of note as well including sugar beans filled with almond paste, candied fruits, and the highly regarded Pandolce Genovese.

Once you try this Ligurian Lemon Cake,I know you’ll want to add it to your list of favorite Italian sweet treats – a beautiful Easter dessert or perfect anytime!


Makes: 1  9 inch cake

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: about 60 minutes depending on oven


1 1/2 C. Flour

1 C. Ground Almonds – grind finely in food processor

1 C. Sugar

2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 C. Olive Oil

3/4 C. Whole Milk

1/2 C. Lemon Curd – (Dickinson’s is a good one, if purchasing, or make your own!)

Zest of a fresh lemon

2 Tsp. Lemon Extract

1 C. Fresh Raspberries – washed

Powdered Sugar


Use a greased 9 inch spring form pan for this.

Mix together: flour, almonds, sugar, baking powder.

Ligurian Lemon Cake 1

Add Olive Oil and milk to the dry ingredients. Mix.

Ligurian Lemon Cake 2

Add the Lemon Curd, Zest, extract, and mix well.

Ligurian Lemon Cake 3

Pour a little less than 1/2 the batter into a greased pan.

Place the raspberries, pointed ends up, around the top of the batter. Leave a little space between each.

Ligurian Lemon Cake 4

Using a spoon, carefully spoon the remaining batter on top of and in between the berries. Smooth the top gently if needed.

Ligurian Lemon Cake 5

Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 60 minutes (Time will depend on your oven) or until the top is set and golden.

Cool at least 15 minutes in the pan and then release the outside band.

Ligurian Lemon Cake 7

Sift powdered sugar over the top. Serve with additional raspberries if you like.

This LIGURIAN LEMON CAKE  is lovely when served with a small glass of Limoncello!


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Baci di Dama

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Lady Kisses

Baci finish 1 with script

Buon giorno!

To me, you can’t go wrong when a recipe results in just the right balance of crunch and goo! This is one of those. BACI DI DAMA  (Lady Kisses)  are the most amazing little bundles of cookie joy coming from the Northern Italian region of Piemonte. First, you bite into the crispy crunch of the cookie and then you reach the gooey center –  So much fun to eat. They are sort of the Italian answer to French Macaroons.

Why Lady Kisses? Over time, some thought they looked like two pairs of lips kissing. Who wouldn’t want to smooch with that delicious chocolate filling? Sounds reasonable. They are often found in Italy at Christmas time, but I think they are appropriate any time – especially when wanting to impress a lover or a Valentine!

There are many recipes out there for these enchanting bites. My BACI DI DAMA are made with almond paste , which I adore, insuring a crispy outer “shell and slightly chewy center. They also contain cocoa powder, giving them a more chocolate flavor. I simply love these and I dare you to stop eating them!

They are soooo easy and so much fun to make using this recipe. Everything goes into the food processor except the filling. It just doesn’t get and easier and the result is a pile of tiny treasures or little packages which go a long way to securing the affection of someone you just might be trying to attract!


(Lady Kisses)

Makes: 3 1/2-4 dozen

Prep: 45 minutes

Bake: about 20-25 minutes 


2  8 oz. Cans Almond Paste – broken up with hands

3/4 C. Sugar

2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

2 Tbsp. Flour

2 Tbsp. Honey

1/4 Tsp. Almond Extract

1/2 C. Chopped almonds or hazelnuts

2 Egg Whites

Pinch of Salt

(If using the Lindt Intense Orange Dark Chocolate mentioned below for a filling option – add a couple of teaspoons of grated Orange Zest to the dough)




Melted Dark Chocolate – I like Lindt Intense Orange for these if using chocolate.

Baci 6Baci 5


Place all above ingredients except those for filling into the bowl of a food processor – With on/off turns process until dough is well mixed.

Baci 1

Transfer dough to a large bowl – easier to work with than in the processor bowl.

Roll the dough into very small balls – no bigger than 3/4 in to 1 inch onto a cookie sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. If hands become sticky, dust them with a little flour or dampen them slightly.

Baci 2

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes – time depends on your oven. Do not over bake. They will be a little soft coming off the sheet and will firm up as they cool.

Let them cool completely before filling.


Place a very small dab of Nutella or Melted Dark Chocolate or Orange Chocolate on the flat side of one of the cookies.

Baci 3

Top it with the flat side of another cookie and press lightly.

Baci 4

Enjoy these BACI DI DAMA with someone special. They are a perfect finish to a romantic dinner or evening – maybe with a liqueur, or Prosecco! They are much too good to just keep for yourself!

Baci 7 with script


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February: Dark Chocolate Torta Caprese Style

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Torta Caprese Al Cioccolato-

Torta finish B with script 2

Buon giorno!

One of the interesting facts about Italian regional cooking is that there are different names for the same or similar dish as you move from region to region. The recipes may vary slightly, but they are essentially the same. An example of this is the simple Chocolate Torte. The one we look at here is the Neapolitan version of this torte –  DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA CAPRESE STYLE  or Torta Caprese Al Cioccolato. This torta is representative of the Caprese style version or the type made in the region of Campania.

Campania, the region of Naples, Capri, and Sorrento  – is boastful of its history, music, and soul – and with good reason. The people of this region live life out loud with drama and spontaneity at the foot of an active volcano. Life to the people of Campania is best lived with abandon and painted with love in the bold colors of its people and spirit.

Their torte or torta is not only dense, but also rich, gooey, moist and  – everything you want in a dark dramatic chocolate dessert that is seductive and sexy. This is it! It lacks a lot of flour, and instead, calls for ground almonds as is the way of many Italian cakes. It contains several eggs and may almost appear to be underdone when finished. It is best when it sits a while or is refrigerated and then presented several hours later or allowed to sit overnight. Then the slices are firm.

This DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA is the dessert you must seek for romantic dinners, Valentine’s Day or a treat for chocolate lovers. This is your dark, handsome paramour or inamorata, waiting to be summoned!

When love calls…beckon forth…



Makes: One 9 inch cake


1 ½ sticks butter – cut into pieces

8 oz. Good dark chocolate – I like 60-70% cocoa – broken into pieces

½ c. sugar

¾ c. brown sugar

6 large eggs

1 tsp. Almond Extract

1 c. ground almonds (grind in food processor)

1 Tbsp. Flour

1 ½ Tbsp. Cocoa

Powdered sugar and cocoa for dusting


Grease a 9 inch spring form pan.

Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler or in a bowl over boiling water. Mix well & cool down.

Torta Caprese 2

In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and almond extract.

Torta Caprese 1

Add the chocolate butter mixture, and incorporate well.

Add ground almonds, flour, and cocoa.

Torta Caprese 3

Mix together and pour into prepared pan.

Torta Caprese 4

Bake in a 350 degree oven until firm in the center – about 40 minutes. Time will depend on how hot your oven is. This is a very moist cake! Do not over cook it!

Remove sides of spring form and let cool.

Sift powdered sugar mixed with cocoa over the top of the cake.

Serve with whipped cream or berries.

Here is another serving idea – cut into squares.

Torta Capresa with script 1

DARK CHOCOLATE TORTA CAPRESE STYLE says love in every language!


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January: Novecento Cake

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Novecento finish with script

Buon giorno!

I am about to share my favorite cake recipe with you! This one is a keeper folks! It is called NOVECENTO CAKE! This cake has so many ingredients in it that I love – hazelnuts, mascarpone, Nutella, whipped cream, and Frangelico liqueur. It just spells L-O-V-E. This cake also has kind of an interesting story…

I receive a lot of email from folks who enjoy Italian food, sharing memories and stories, etc. I truly treasure these emails – the fuel that keeps me going. Sometimes I receive inquiries about specific recipes. Some of these recipes have me completely stumped – in other words – I have never heard of them!  There was one not long ago that both stumped me and captured my full attention.

Recently, I received an email from Terry, a friend of my website, inquiring about a cake he sampled in Italy that he absolutely could not forget. Terry visited Piemonte, a region in the North of Italy known for its amazing food and its wine country. While touring the town of Ivrea, he encountered the NOVECENTO CAKE and became determined to find or recreate it. 

The history: The cake was the brainchild of Ottavio Bertinotti, a pastry chef of reknown, in the town of Ivrea in Piemonte in the late 1800’s to herald the coming of a brand new century. This is how he arrived upon the name “novecento”. The recipe was a secret then and the secret is held closely even today – virtually impossible to obtain.Today it is made by a pasticcieria  called “Balla”. Unfortunately, Balla guards the secret recipe tightly and will not reveal it. The whole idea of secrecy intrigued me, so I spent some time researching the cake. Several have tried to duplicate it, and I have now joined this group of obsessed individuals.

After some time pondering this thing – I decided to come up with my own version – based loosely on what little I could find in research. As luck would have it, I saw that sponge cake or Pane di Spagna was used for the cake itself. Now this just happened to be a favorite and often made cake by my mother, Loretta. She loved sponge cake so we had it a lot at home, and she had a lovely recipe for it. I tweaked that lovely recipe especially for this cake by adding a bit of cocoa. She would, I think, be proud of this new creation especially since her sponge cake became the foundation on which to build it.

I also happen to love the flavor of hazelnuts which I added to the filling in the form of Nutella.

One nice thing about sponge cake is that it will hold liquid without becoming soggy. Maybe that’s why they call it sponge cake? Your call! As with many Italian desserts, this cake just begged to be brushed with “something potent.” I brushed the layers generously with Frangelico which is a hazelnut liqueur.

The resulting cake – not difficult to make – is a very typically Italian tasting pastry delight which has become my favorite dessert. It deserves the honor of the title: RECIPE OF THE MONTH!


Makes: One 3 layer cake

Prep: 1 hour 30 minutes

For Sponge Cake (Pane di Spagna):


8 egg yolks

8 egg whites

2 tsp. almond extract

1 1/3 C. Flour

1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

1 1/4 C. sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. Water

1/4 tsp. salt


( I like to make the sponge cake layers a day ahead of assembly and then make filling and assemble and let sit several hours or preferably overnight.)

Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt 3 times into a bowl.

Novecento 1

In mixer – mix egg yolks, sugar, water, and extract until light colored.

Novecento 2

Add flour mixture to the yolk mixture gradually making a batter.

Novecento 4

Beat egg whites until stiff and then fold them into the batter with a spatula. Add a little of the whites at first and beat them in with a spatula to lighten the batter. Then fold the rest in.

Novecento 5

Novecento 6

Pour into 3 greased and floured 9 “ cake pans.

Novecento 7

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and turn out of pans to cool completely. Refrigerate the layers overnight and fill the next day.



8 oz. Mascarpone Cheese

1 Cup Whipped Heavy Cream

dash salt

3 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 C. Nutella

2 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur (hazelnut)


Mix the Frangelico and Nutella together until smooth.

Novecento 8

Beat the Nutella mixture together with the mascarpone until blended.

Novecento 9

Whip the cream with the sugar and salt.

Novecento 10

Add a little of the whipped cream to the Nutella and Mascarpone mixture and mix in to lighten. Then fold in the rest of the whipped cream.




3/4 C. Frangelico for brushing

1/2 C. Toasted Coarsely Chopped Hazelnuts

1/4 C. Powdered sugar

1/2 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder


Brush the tops of all sponge cake layers generously with Frangelico liqueur. It requires about 3/4 C. of liqueur for this.

Novecento 11

Spread 1/2 of the filling over the first layer.

Top with the second layer – press down a little on it –  and spread with the remaining filling.

Novecento 12

Top with the third layer. Press down again to firmly plant the layers and filling together.

Novecento 13

Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on the top layer.

Novecento 14

Mix the powdered sugar and cocoa together and sift over the top of the cake.

Novecento 15

Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Slice your NOVECENTO CAKE  and serve with Frangelico, espresso or coffee. A dollop of whipped cream on the side of each slice is nice! Enjoy this one!


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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography


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