Rich Italian dessert recipes are known around the world. They rank right up there with the French desserts. Any cook interested in preparing delicious desserts will tell of their favorite tiramisu recipe.
They will describe the fresh mascarpone cheese, alcohol of their choice and a very strong instant espresso coffee, going in to make this Tuscan trifle. I get hungry just listening to many describe how they make their favorite cannoli recipes or the many variations of the light and deliciously flavored Italian cheesecakes. I also love the fresh creaminess of panna cotta served with fresh fruit. How delicious are these wonderful Italian dessert recipes!
One thing that surprised me to hear from many Italians is that they do not usually have dessert with their everyday meals. Here in the United States most of us think that desserts are a devise for our pleasure and if we have a good meal we must have a luscious dessert at the end. The Italians, I am told reserve these luscious desserts for only special times of the year; the most they serve with the daily meals would be fresh fruit and maybe a piece of robust cheese. Perhaps this comes from their history of using sugar in a limited number of dishes and using much less in the recipes than we do here. (I notice this is also the case in Ecuador, Costa Rico and other countries). These sweet dishes use to be eaten only by the rich and privileged.
Another thing that has surprised me is how many Italian dessert recipes there are that I have not tried; and they sound so delicious. What makes these Italian desserts so special? It is all the fresh ingredients like the creams and cheeses which makes all the Italian cuisine famous. A dessert originating out of the city of Florence is the Zuccotto recipe; a semi frozen dessert made with ice cream, cake and brandy and made in a small pumpkin shaped mold. Doesn’t that sound delicious? No wonder it is one of the favorites of Italy. The panforte recipe is a traditional dessert with spicy flavor; dessert containing fruits and nuts like a fruitcake. This recipe originated in the Tuscany region and was paid as a tax to the monks. This could be similar to the panettone sweet bread. There are many recipes which are similar but have different names.
Italian dessert recipes must be broken down into two groups. The ancient or the oldest of the sweets were derived from bread recipes. Like I said earlier sugar was such a luxury that it was reserved only for kings. A little honey or fruit was added to sweeten bread recipes. Later came the more modern recipes, when the sugar is plentiful and taken for granted. Sugar cane is one product which greatly influenced the history of Italian food. The widespread agriculture of Italy produced cooking basics of milk, eggs, honey, and almonds. These, along with added sugar turn out sweet creamy desserts like the Italian cheesecake, Panna Cotta and the Italian cream puffs.
The now abundant supply of fresh eggs, milk and cheese lends well to any Italian dessert recipes. Homemade breads are sweetened with fruit and sugar and might be served along with a meal. Like all countries, Italy has its own Italian food customs. Special days of the years, especially Easter and Christmas are times to bring out all the Italian dessert recipes. All holidays are celebrated with special foods. Italian Easter food consists of a traditional Easter pie. Each family has its own unique recipe, and each one discusses it with friends and neighbors. It is kept in the baking pan and is offered to guest for about a week around Easter time. For these special days most desserts are made at home but they could be purchased in the local pastry shop (or pasticceria). The art of pastry making has been passed down and chefs are renowned for their skills.
Italian dessert recipes like this may be served at the end of a meal; they are very popular all over Italy.
Cut fig from top to bottom in half: DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
Cut fig the same way through the halves making 4 quarters still hooked together.
Then cut all the way through 1 of the cuts.
Now you can open the fig and have 4 sections still hooked together.
Combine in a bowl the egg yolk, sugar and cheese; beat together until mixture is light.
Add brandy and fold lightly into cheese mixture.
Spoon mixture into the center of each opened fig and top with an almond.
This ice cream dessert is traditionally decorated with powder sugar and cocoa powder making stripes like you would find on a beach ball. A pattern can be made out of parchment paper; Sift the cocoa powder over the paper pattern then turn the patter and sift the sugar over the pattern.
Lightly grease bottom of 2 pint bowl; cut circle wax paper and fit into bowl smoothing it.
Make sure lady fingers are not too long to fit into sides of bowl; if so cut to fit.
Pour brandy into a flat dish; quickly dip lady finger into brandy and turn over to coat.
Quickly stand the lady finger in the bowl with sugar side facing bowl
Repeat with remaining lady fingers making a solid surface of the cakes; fill bottom with any broken pieces.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Spoon the hazelnut ice cream in center of the bowl; spread it up and around the sides to completely cover the lady fingers.
Freeze until solid about 2 hours.
Beat any remaining brandy into the chocolate ice cream and fill center of dessert, level, cover with foil and freeze.
To serve remove foil and carefully run a thin knife around the edges between the lady fingers and the bowl.
Invert a cold plate over the bowl and turn upside down to remove dessert from bowl.
Carefully remove the bowl and remove the wax paper; sift with cocoa powder and powdered sugar over pattern to make stripes.
You can sift plain sugar all over or plain cocoa powder.
This is one of the Italian dessert recipes which is usually served at Christmas.
Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Grease and line with wax paper 9 inch spring form pan; cut wax paper circle to fit bottom and strip to fit around sides.
Sift together sifted flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking soda.
Mix into dry ingredients raisins, dates, figs, orange peel and nuts.
Combine and blend sour cream, eggs, butter, vanilla and wine; add to dry ingredients all at once.
Beat well and pour into prepared pan; bake 1 to 1 ½ hours or until tester comes out clean.
Invert on wire rack about 5 minutes; carefully loosen and remove from pan.
TORTA DI MELIGA
Cornmeal is used in some of the Italian dessert recipes like this cornmeal cake. This was strange at first to me since here in the United States it is not common. Once I tasted this cake I found it to be so delicious. This very simple crumbly cake is especially suitable for serving with afternoon tea.
Blanch almonds for 1 minute; pat dry and peel off skins and chop finely.
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Combine and mix in mixing bowl almonds, cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and 4 ounces butter.
Grease 9 inch spring form pan with remaining butter; spread dough in pan.
Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown; let cool slightly and remove sides of pan.
Let cool completely and sift powdered sugar over top.