Thursday, 20 May 2010

Shortbread or Jenga?

Shortbread or Jenga?

Do you remember Jenga? :)

The recipe is by Trish Deseine from her very good book "Cooking with friends"; I slightly modified it just by adding some roasted hazelnuts. To be honest I am not a huge fan of shortbread but I found this one very delicious...crunchy but it melts in your mouth...a real treat!!!


250g Salted butter
300g Plain flour
90g Sugar
200g Whole roasted hazelnuts

In a food processor chop the hazelnuts with the sugar until they are fine but with a little texture and put them in a big bowl. Again using the food processor, mix flour and butter together at maximum speed until the mixture resembles breadcrums and pour over the chopped hazelnutz. Knead by hand for a couple of minutes until everything comes together and you have big crumbs. Spread compacting it with your hands in a Swiss roll or round tin, lined with baking parchment, until 1 cm thick. Let rest for 30' or more in the fridge and meanwhile preheat the oven to 150°C. Bake for 50' until deep golden brown. Leave it to cool for 5 minutes and then cut into wedges (if round tin was used) or fingers (if a Swiss roll tin was used) and allow to cool completely before serving.

A crunchy smile,

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Little Pistachio Tiramisù with Strawberries

Tiramisù al Pistacchio con Fragole

The idea of making and serving Tiramisù in little pots is not mine...I "stole" it from Wiggi who, in turn, "stole" it from Sadler. Anyway, I can modestly say that I was lucky enough to be able to taste the original at her wonderful wedding and, because I am a spoilt girl, I took home with me 2, and I say 2!!!, of these little gorgeous treats...not without effort though, since the waiters at the party tried few times to take my preeciousssssss treasure away, not knowing about their boss' consent.

Trying not to copy everything from Wiggi's post, I thought to combine with the strawberries two flavours that with them are just perfect, chocolate, for the sponge, and pistachio, for the mascarpone cream...without doubts, a marriage made in heaven!!

Makes 8 little jars

For the SPONGE
(Recipe by Ilona Chovancova from her book "Rotoli" (Rolls))

5 Eggs
120g Sugar
120 g Plain flour
2 Tbsp Cocoa powder
1 Pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Separate the eggs and beat yolks and sugar together until pale. Sift the flour with the cocoa powder and the pinch of salt and add them to the beaten yolks a tablespoon at a time mixing very gently. Wisk the egg withes to soft peaks and fold them delicately in the mixture. Pour the sponge batter into a swiss roll tin (25 x 35/40 cm) lined with baking parchment. Bake for 12-15'. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


5 Eggs
500g Mascarpone cheese
200g Sugar
100-150g Pistachio paste

Separate the eggs and in a large bowl beat the yolks with the sugar until pale. In another bowl mix the mascarpone and the pistachio paste together until soft and smooth and then add it to the beaten yolks mixing gently. Wisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks and fold them into the mascarpone/yolks mixture. The cream has to be light and soft so it is important not to beat off the air from it while mixing.


Pistachio mascarpone cream
Strong espresso coffee
Strawberries (20-30)
Cocoa powder to dust

Cut the sponge with a round cutter of the same diameter of the jar (alternatively, cut the sponge into strips as if they were savoiarbi biscuits) and slice 20 strawberries (roughly two for each little jar). Start to cover the bottom of the jar (or the glass) with the sponge soaked in the coffee for few seconds, then add 1-2 tbsp of mascarpone cream and some strawberries. Carry on with with a second layer of sponge and mascarpone cream only. Dust with cocoa powder and decorate with half strawberry.

And this is Sadler's original version:


A smile with the lid,

Friday, 14 May 2010

Alassio Kisses aka Baci di Alassio

Baci di Alassio

I fell immediately in love with these kisses when I saw them in the March issue of Sale&Pepe (italian food magazine)....and like Baci di Dama (Lady kisses), they seem very easy-peasy to make but beware, their simple recipe could be tricky especially the first time...In fact, I managed to bake perfect kisses only at the third attempt!!! Luckily I am very stubborn and I don't throw in the towel easily because these little beauties are SUPER DIVINE...especially if they are "forgotten" in the tin for a couple of days!

As I told you the recipe itself is very easy and, with a few tricks, fool's proof so....give it a go!!

Per 20 kisses

250g Whole hazelnuts, toasted
200g Caster sugar
25g Honey (preferably runny)
25g Cocoa powder
2 Egg whites (60-70g) (*)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a mixer chop finely the hazelnuts with the sugar and put them in a big bowl. Sieve the cocoa powder on top and stir wells with a spoon. Add the honey and stir again. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and add a spoon at a time to the rest of the ingredients. This is the tricky step because the mixture has to be thik and firm for the kisses to hold their shape during baking (**). Therefore it is possible that it is not necessary to add all the egg whites. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment and fill with the mixture a piping bag with a large star nozzle. Pipe the kisses in individual swirls the size of half a walnut. Bake for 10-12' in the middle shelf and when ready (they shoul have a crisp skin), take out the oven and allaw to cool on a wire rack. Sandwich together with a teaspoon of dark chocolate ganache. Keep in a tin for up to 15 days (even more). Their taste develop if left for at least a day in the tin.


75g Dark chocolate (50-70% cocoa), chopped
75g Double cream

Bring the cream to the boil and set aside. Add the chocolete and stir until it is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Leave to cool for 2 hours (or until the ganache is firm and can be spooned).

(*) The original recipe does not specify the weight of the whites so I considered the weight of the white of a medium egg (about 35g).

(**) The mixture has the right consistency when it takes a little effort to pipe it on the bakig tray; If you think that the mixture is a bit too loose, try to leave the kisses (once formed) on the baking sheet overnight at room; in this way they should hold their shape while in the oven.

A smily kiss,