La dolce vita: sweet recipes inspired by Italy
Italians – or, rather, Venetians, Tuscans, Sicilians and so on – have very specific baking styles.
From one region to the next – actually, from one village to the next – recipes and traditions differ greatly. They take pride in these nuances. With pride comes tradition, and with tradition comes history.
When Italians settled in the US, there was no shortage of this pride, as seen in the Italian rainbow cookie, combining the flavours of Italy with the bold aesthetic of America. I recently had to find a way to bake some, even though the brief left me cold. Food colouring? Almond extract? Apricot jam with chocolate? But somehow all of these ingredients come together to form a delicious treat with a very moreish texture. I liked them so much that we have started making them at the bakery, defying all my no-food-colouring rules.
More in keeping with my seasonal approach to baking is panna cotta. This milk-and-cream-based pudding is the perfect canvas for fresh, roasted or poached fruit. I chose nespole (or loquat) because, when roasted lightly, they melt beautifully into the pudding. Texture is key here. Made without eggs, panna cotta is set with gelatin for a light and refreshing dessert. As it sits, the gelatin continues to set, so this is at its best made on the same day you plan to serve it.
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