Torta caprese

Torta caprese

The torta caprese is one of the most luscious cakes you can imagine.
And the simplest to make. A few passages and you’ll be thrown in another world.
The history of this cake dates as far back as the 1920s, or so it seems and like many of the most famous Italian cakes it is alleged to have been created by mistake. We Italians are creative even beyond our control! Apparently a famous chef was intent to prepare a chocolate cake for some distinguished American guests (some say they were famous American Mafiosi, but who would say?) and he forgot to put the flour in it, thus making maybe the first gluten-free cake of the century. The cake soon became exceptionally famous and it still is. No need to wonder, taste a small bit of it and you’ll know why.
Any baker in Italy has a recipe, I’ll leave you mine:
125 g dark chocolate
125 g butter
100 g sugar
150 g almonds
3 eggs
Powdered sugar
One pinch of salt
Water
Preheat the oven to 350° F /180° C.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt it in a non-stick pan (preferably) with some water (not much, two or three tablespoons will do) over a moderate flame, stirring continuously. Once melted, add the butter in pieces (still stirring) until it melts. Then take it off the flame.
In the meantime, toast the almonds in a non-stick pan over a flame until they’re slightly brown. Chop them with the aid of a mixer. Add the almonds to the chocolate mix and let it cool down a bit.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they’re clear, and then add the chocolate mixture. Stir until the mixture is smooth.
Then pass on to the egg whites, beat them with the help of a pinch of salt until they’re stiff and then gently fold them with the rest of the ingredients.
Tale a cake pan and cover it with greaseproof paper. Pour the batter into it (level it if necessary) then bake for 20/30 minutes (check with a toothpick).
Remove from the oven and let it cool down. Then decorate with powdered sugar.
You’ll love it!

Banana bread

Banana bread

This recipe comes directly from Canada , and I thank Lorena for the tip.
I have developed a sort of aversion for cakes based on bananas, but I must say this recipe satisfied me, at last!
Besides it’s ridiculously easy and it is a good alternative for breakfast. The ingredients are few:
3 ripe bananas
76 gr melted butter
292 gr flour
220 gr brown sugar
cinammon and nutmeg (to your taste)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Put in a bow the squashed bananas (it’s also good to calm your nerves!), the sugar and the butter. Whisk well then add the egg, the vanilla and the baking powder. then add the cinammon and the nutmeg to your taste (I don’t like nutmeg, I just used cinammon, one teaspoon approximately). Whisk again and then incorporate the flour little by little.
Pur the dough in a baking pan covered with greaseproof paper and bake from 45 minutes to an hour approximately. Check well using a toothpick, as the baking times depends on how moist the bananas are (this time it took more than an hour, after 45 minutes the dough was still partially raw).

If you want to try this recipe, send me the pic of your final result in the comments below.

Glutenfree cookies

Glutenfree cookies

After a while I’m back into my glutenfree cooking with these biscuits, whose recipe is quite traditional (you can find the ordinary version on the Il Cucchiaio D’Argento website). I had it changed a little because I wanted to use the glutenfree Mix C by Schaer, and I wanted them to be lighter (no butter in this version). Of course you can add butter, and in this case the proportion is Always 80/100 (i.e. 80 grams of oil for 100 grams of butter):

280 gr Mix C flour
75 gr brown sugar
100 gr vegetable oil
80 gr cold water acqua almeno ambiente (non calda o tiepida comunque)
the zest of half a lemon
half teaspoon of baking soda
a pinch of salt
icing sugar for decoration

Put all the dry elements into a bowl, plus the lemon zest, and whisk, then add the oil. Whisk again until everything is amalgamated and then add the water in small quantities. The water should make the dough soft and relatively crumbly. So pay attention to this passage, if you use too much water you may end up having a sticky dough instead.
Put the dough into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes in wrapping film (form a ball).
Once the time has passed, gently knead again for a few minutes and then using a rolling pin roll the dough out (about half centimeter thick).
Use the dough cutter you prefer to cut the biscuits, then put them on a baking tray covered with baking paper and bake them in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about ten minutes.
Once they’ve cooled down, cover them with icing sugar.
You may want to cover them with chocolate (in this case melt the chocolate bar into the microwave and then dip the cookies into it) or use the jam the way I did in the picture above.
These cookies are delicious with tea.
…….. and they’re fit for vegans too!

Vegan muffins with carrots and nuts

Vegan muffins with carrots and nuts

Yesterday was World Vegan Day, so I thought to celebrate it with those who embraced this lifestyle I am so curious about.
Last Tuesday I had a delicious vegan dinner prepared by Chiara Canzian, a young and talented vegan and vegetarian chef, to whom I promised (well I threatened her for what matters) to steal a few of her recipies. So I think the day is just the one to start this stealing.
You may want to visit her blog
This recipe is not on her blog yet, you can find it on the book she wrote with her dad Red Canzian (he’s the bass player of the most famous and longlasting Italian pop group), called “Sano Vegano Italiano” (ed. Rizzoli). I write it down here for you, in her version (as I made some small adjustments, as I always do)
300 gr wholemeal flour
200 gr brown sugar
200 gr soy milk (I used Almond milk)
8 gr cream of tartar
8 gr baking soda
150 gr nuts (weight them without shell)
150 gr carrots
80 gr sunflower oil
a pinch of cinammon
As first thing, mince the carrots and the nuts in a blender (the carrots must be cleaned beforehand).
Then take a bowl and whisk together oil, milk and sugar.
In another bowl mix the baking powders and the cinammon with the flour.
Then start pouring little by little the mixture of liquids into the flour, and whisk it well to avoid lumps. After you have incorporated the entire liquids, mix the carrots and nuts, and whisk everything until the dough is smooth and without lumps.
Put the dough into the fluted baking cases and then bake them into a ventilated oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Once they’ve cooled dowm, sprinkle some icing sugar.
Tasty and easy to make!

Halloween sweets

Halloween sweets

Halloween’s not much of an Italian festivity. We have carnival, we have other days. Yet, little by little, with the help of TV shows and movies and lots of advertising from companies that just needed another occasion to sell their stuff, Halloween has become a sort of new celebration, especially among the youngest. My nieces will attend their second-year-in-a-row party tomorrow night, and asked for something to bring. Lots of things, and so little time. What’s better than spooky cookies and a muffin along the way?
The dough for the cookies is just the same pastry, just need some invention to shape it differently. For the dough you need:
650 gr of flour (keep some more at hand, if the dough ‘s too wet you may need to add some more)
200 gr sugar
8 gr baking powder
4 eggs
150 gr vegetable oil
Put the eggs in a bowl and mix them with the sugar, then the baking powder and then the oil. Try to avoid any lumps. After that, little by little, add the flour. The dough is to become more solid as you pour the flour in. When it becomes less sticky, put it onto a pastry board, sprinkled with flour. Keep on kneading untile the dough is well elastic and smooth.
Then use your fantasy and start forming the cookies. For the skulls you may need a dough cutter (or a teacup) and a rolling pin. The dough must be half centimeter thick approximately.
Cut as many circles as you like, then pinch the lower part to form the jaw of the skull.
Use a fork prong or similar to form the eyes and the nose, as for the teeth I have used pine nuts.
For the witch fingers cookies use the same dough, forming little fingers by rolling bits of dough between your hands. For the nail, use a peeled almond. Mark the finger lines using a fork prong. if you want to add abit of spookiness, use any sort of jam – but it needs to be a red one (cranberries, cherries, anything you like). you can put some (very little actually) under the almons and at the basis of the finger.
Both skulls and fingers will bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Pumpkin muffins are just as easy, and you need
250 gr flour
120 gr sugar
125 ml milk
80 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
16 gr baking powder
cinammon

Put in a bowl the baking powder, the flour and the cinammon (the quantity depends on your personal taste. I added half a teaspoon, you may want to add a full teaspoon). Stir well and then form a hole in the middle of the dry powders. where you’ll pour milk, oil and the eggs. Whisk everything and avoid the unwanted lumps (I use a food processor). Once the dough is smooth, add the blended pumpkin.
Pour the dough in the wrappers and then into the over at 180 degrees for the usual 15/20 minutes.
If you want a nice topping you may use the cheese cream I did with
200 gr fresh cheese
120 gr icing sugar
80’ gr butter
and some food coloring. Whisk the chees eand the sugar, and after it is well amalgamated add the butter (it must be soft but not melted). I used a pastry bag for the decorations.
Happy Halloween!!

Nutella and pear sweet dumplings

Nutella and pear sweet dumplings

Pears and Nutella – a classic combo! This recipe’s really easy and it helps me out any time I run out of biscuits for breakfast. The dumplings are not so sweet after all, I avoid using too much sugar whenever I also use Nutella. It’s up to you obviously, but the biscuit with such a mild taste will exalt the filling. And it’s so good for your guilt feelings that you may do without sugar in the dough for once…
So, get yourself
130 gr flour
50 gr water
40 gr sunflower oil
1 egg
1 white egg
1 pear
Put the flour in a bowl and add the water. Whisk it and then also add the oil. Keep on whisking. After but an egg into the bowl (well, if you really want… a spoonful of sugar as well..). as the dole becomes thicker start kneading it until it becomes solid enough to roll it into a small ball. Wrap it with film and put it into the fridge for half an hour. In the meantime, peel and cut the pear in very small pieces (switch on the radio if you like, it’s relaxing).
After thirty minutes take the dough out of the fridge, roll it out with the help of a rolling pin and cut several circles (you may use a glass). Put some Nutella in the centre (half a teaspoon), then a few bits of pear, and then fold it in the shape of a dumpling. Close firmly with the fingers and then with the prong of a fork.
Put the dumplings on a tray, and then into the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees.
You may sprinkle them with icing sugar, if you like it.
If you decide to replicate the recipe, send me your pics!

Vegan carrot cake

Vegan carrot cake

I am not vegan, I am not vegetarian. But I love to experiment. I found this recipe in a magazine and I wanted to try it. Besides, I have this thing with wholemeal flour – whwnever I use it, something goes wrong. But I keep on trying, hopefully one day the fate will me in my favour!
The cake is not difficult at all. The ingredients are somehow many though. I did not find coconut oil, so I used vegetable oil. Probably it lacks some taste, but it’s quite peculiar anyway.
The banana frosting gives it a kick too, so it was a surprising experiment after all.
And it’s 100% vegan!
300 gr carrots
300 gr wholemeal flour
200 gr brown sugar
2 dl apple juice
1 teaspoon of freshly grounded ginger
5-6 spoons of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Peel the carrtos and then put them in bits in a mixer. Blend them. In a bowl put the flour, the sugar, the baking soda, the ginger, the apple juice, the oil and the lemon. Once it is all well amalgamated, add the carrots and whisk again. Put the mixture in a mold (24 cm diameter) covered with baking paper (better moist the paper and squeeze it first). Bake it for about 20 minutes in the oven preheated at 180 degrees – you’d better check the cake, I had to leave it a bit longer because it was still raw.
Whilst it cools down, you may prepare the banana frosting with
3 bananas
5/6 spoons of maple syrup
4/5 spoons of coconut oil
5/6 spoons of cold coconut milk
cinammon
Put the bananas in a mixer and whisk them with the syrup, the coconut oil and milk, and a teaspoon of grounded cinammon. Put the frosting onto the top of the cake, and decorate it with a julienne carrot.

Persimmons tart

Persimmons tart

I love the shades of orange and red that the Autumn season offers us. It’s such an underrated season, but it is quite romantic and fascinating to me.
As leaves turn from the summer green to the darker shades of Yellow, and on to the most vivid reds, fruits and vegetables too brighten up with the same colourings. Pumpkins, persimmons, pomegranates… a feast of colopurs!
Altough this year is offering us an unusually lung summer, I’d love to celebrate the beginning of the autumn season with a delicate and savoury tart, all in the colors of the season.
So here it is my persimmons and almonds tart, without any shade of butter in it.
It is so easy to take, and success is guaranteed! In the picture you’ll see a rectangular baking tray (a new entry in my kitchen!) but you can use anything you like. The ingredients of this shortcrust patry is enough for a round tray of 26 cm diameter:
1 egg
70 gr sugar
60 gr vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil, but any will do)
220 gr flour
half teaspoon of baking powder
Put all ingredients together in a bowl and mix them with your hands (it’s creepy at the beginning, but it’s going to be fun!). as soon as the dole starts getting more solid, move it to a pasdry board and knead it until the dole gets solid.
Roll the dough out in the size of your baking tray, and then but the dough in the tray, and perforate the bottom with a fork. You can move on to the filling, and for this you need:
2/3 persimmons (ripe)
the zest of a lemon (organic)
1 pinch of cinammon
Flaked almonds
Icing sugar to decorate
Peel the persimmons and then squash them into a bowl with the help of a fork.Then add the cinammon and the lemon zest, and mix it all together.
Put the mixture onto the crust and level it.
Sprinkle with almons and then put it into the oven at 180 degrees foir average 25 mninutes (check your oven Always, any one has a different behavour).
One it cooled down, put some icing sugar on it and taste it with a good cup of tea. It is delicious!

Canestrelli cookies

Canestrelli cookies

Canestrelli are typical Italian cookies from Piedmont and Liguria. They are usually shaped like little flowers, all covered with icing sugar and among cookies they are one of my favourites. Super sweet and buttery flavoured, they warm up these first Autumn days!
I had an egg yolk left from a previous recipe, and as I hate throwing food away I used it for this delicious treat. It’s going to be super easy, believe me. Are you ready to start?

The ingredients are
150 gr. Flour
100 gr. Potato starch
70 gr. Icing sugar + 2/3 tablespoons for the final dusting
3 boiled egg yolks
Zest of one lemon
Vanilla beans

Forst of all, let’s boil the eggs (eight minutes will do) and once they’re cooled down take the boiled yolks and crumble them (you may sift them, or use a grater like I did). Put in your food processor flour, sugar and the zest, and the sifted yolks too and give it a good stir with the processor. After that, put into the food processor also the butter straight from the fridge (divide it in bits) and mix that all too – not too long, the mixture must look crumbly. Then put it onto a pastry board (or a clean table) and start kneading the dough. With the warmth of your hands the dough will get smooth. For a sort of pat and put it in the fridge covered with food film for about half an hour.
Take then the dough from the fridge, put it on the board and roll it with a rolling pin, it must be at least 1 centimetre thick.  Take a flower-shaped cookie cutter and form your cookies (for the central whole I used the tip of a cannoli cutter, but you can also use the tip of a nozzle of a pastry bag).
Put the cookies on a tray and then into the oven preheated at 160 degrees. Cook for about 15 minutes.
Let them cool down and then dust them with icing sugar.

Try the recipe and then share with me your thoughts about it!