Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This pastry is one of my mom's favorite. Every bite reminds her of her life back in Sicily before she and most of the family moved to the states. During a recent baptism reception at the Brownstone in Paterson, my mom filled her plate with at least 5, and everytime she put another in her mouth, she recalled a different memory. I knew then that I wanted to try to re-create these for her. The perfect opportunity came up mid-November, and one night when I had the house to myself and no one to complain about the mess that I knew I was going to make, I got working on creating what I knew my mom would really enjoy and appreciate.
Overall, the end result was fantastic! The pastry shell turned out delicate and moist and the filling, with subtle hints of vanilla and lemon, was perfectly creamy and not too sweet. However I knew I did well when after my mom's first bite, called over my Zia Lucia (our family master baker) to show her what I did. Her thumbs up, as well as my mom's, mean the world to me, and that's just what I got with this recipe. Enjoy!

The following recipe is used as a "filler" for many Italian desserts. It makes about a quart and a half of filling.

Crema Pasticciera
(Basic Pastry Creme)

Recipe from La Cucina Siciliana di Gangivecchio by: Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene with Michael Evans

1-1/2 quarts milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peel of 2 large or 4 small lemons, cut in one long strip each
8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2-1/4 cups of sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch

Over low heat, slowly bring the milk, vanilla and lemon peel to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring occasionally.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and blend well.
Remove the milk from the heat and discard the lemon peels. Little by little, beat 3/4 cup of the hot milk into the eggs.
Slowly stir the egg mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan, constantly stirring. When it is thoroughly incorporated, return the pan to high heat and let the crema boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy.

Side note: This recipe is easily cut in half. Crema pasticciera keeps well in the refrigerator for one day.


Recipe from "Concy" da Forum di Coquinaria: Pasticciotti
Non-translated version can be found here with step-by-step photos.

500 grams of flour
250 grams sugar
150 grams shortening
3 eggs
The peel of one lemon, finely grated
1/2 packet of lievito bertolini
1 recipe of crema pasticciera

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the flour on a large flouring board. Place the shortening in the middle of the flour and with your hands slowly incorporate them together. Mix in the lievito. Make a "hole" in the middle of the flour mixture and add in the eggs, sugar and grated lemon peel. Slowly mix in the flour mixture working your way from the inside of the hole to the outside, eventually forming a ball of dough. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for a half hour.

After refrigeration, roll dough to a 6/7mm thickness. Cut out the necessary sizes needed for the tart shells you are using. Place the dough in the tart shell and gently press in to make sure all nooks and crannies are filled. Put enough of the crema pasticciera in the shell to almost fill it to the top, do not fill completely! Cut out another shape of the dough large enough to cover the shell, and seal shut cutting away the dough that is left over. Brush the tops with some milk and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes. When cool to the touch, remove from tart shells. When completely cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pecan pie....or not!

Two of my favorite things in life are:

1. Cookies!!!!

2. Pecan Pie

oh and 3...my husband of course! Sorry Enz!

My love of the common cookie is beyond measure. I mean what is there not to like about cookies? Your options are endless...crispy or chewy, chocolate or vanilla, topped or filled, dipped or sandwiched, bite-sized or super sized, topped with jam, filled with peanut butter, rolled in sprinkles, dredged in powdered sugar...I can go on and on! I freaking LOVE cookies and you will probably notice that most of my blogging will consist of cookies! Anyway back to my point! When I came across a recipe combining my two "loves" I knew it would be the perfect addition to our dessert table for this Thanksgiving. This recipe does not disappoint! Buttery, chewy & gooey, it's as close as you can get to a pecan pie while still keeping it simple and less traditional.

Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 p firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Think I'm Over The Rainbow....Cookies!

OK so I've had enough! I mean don't get me wrong they ARE phenomenal! But 2 batches in 2 days time is a bit much. Plus it took me over an hour last night to scrub off the red food coloring that EXPLODED all over me...not fun! Don't worry...not all went in my belly! My first batch (see below) was my last trial run just to make sure I perfected the recipe. That batch was then brought over to my aunt's house for the Feast of St. Martino. Batch number 2 is for my husband's lovely co-worker, Tian. She fell in love with them last year when I sent a tray of my homemade cookies to his place of employment and asked if I could bake her a few. Though I didn't get the chance to then, short notice (3 days before the holiday), I had the perfect opportunity to bake them for her for Thanksgiving. Tian, I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Holy Rainbow Cookies Batman!...errrr ummm I mean Shrek!

Growing up these cookies were a treat for my family. Because of time needed to make these, they were usually only served around the holidays. And by the time us "little" ones made it to the dessert table, they were gone...eaten...or snagged up by a few of my aunts that loved to hoard up (Is hoard even a word?) and package some food to take home for leftovers before everyone else got a chance to finish eating....which aunts they were...well i'm sure some of my cousins reading this know who they are! I decided enough was enough! I found a few recipes for these delectable little treats and after a few trials, I came up with the perfect recipe. And don't say I didn't warn you! The first time making these I guarantee your going to want to ripe your scalp off, but don't despair ladies and gentlemen! It gets easier after your first run and in no time you'll be popping these cookies out like something stuck between Mama's teeth. Ewwww sorry! I grossed myself out with that one. Enjoy!

Rainbow Cookies


4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 (8-oz) can almond paste

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

35 drops red food coloring
35 drops green food coloring

1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained

7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate chopped


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper. Beat eggs in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time. Transfer to another bowl.

Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add almond extract and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined. Mix in egg mixture.

Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).
Bake red layer 10 to 11 minutes, until just set.

Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.

When all layers are cool, invert green onto a wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax paper. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.

Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.

Cooks' note:Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.