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.
(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
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.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 p firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
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!
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.