I used to think that Italian desserts were nothing special and only consisted of tiramisu and biscotti. Boy was I wrong! While I was in Tuscany last summer I sampled many delicious treats, from amaretto cookies in mascarpone cream, to molten chocolate cakes, and even a fresh fig tart. Lately I have been missing Italy, so I decided to bake some of the recipes that I brought back from my trip last year. The first recipe I tried was for a “Spicy Chocolate Tart”. I made a few modifications to it though, by adding chopped hazelnuts, milk chocolate instead of dark, vanilla extract instead of sweet wine, and I omitted the red pepper because I wasn’t sure if my family would like their chocolate spicy. The modifications resulted in a decedent and utterly delicious tart that had just the right amount of crunch from the hazelnuts and flavour and aroma from the vanilla. I served each slice with a dollop of cinnamon scented whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
The next dessert I made was an “Apple Cake with Crackly Meringue”. It turned out amazing! This is a layer cake that starts with a butter crust bottom, followed by an apple cake batter, and finally it is all topped off with crunchy meringue. I also made a few changes to this recipe by using buttermilk instead of regular milk, and omitting the lemon zest. Lastly, I added some cinnamon to the cake because I think apples and cinnamon go together perfectly.
While in Italy I tried to have gelato everyday. Lately I have been craving gelato so I made “Strawberry Vanilla Mascarpone Gelato” and added fresh strawberries to give it extra flavour and a nice colour. I don’t know what it is about making ice cream but I always get so excited to see it turn from a liquid to a solid. If you are not really into baking, but love to have home made desserts I would recommend you buy an ice cream maker. You can find them for a reasonable price and making your own ice cream is really so simple and fun!
Last night I decided to try out a recipe for an “Italian Strawberry Tart”. This recipe again was very simple and the only change I made was to use vanilla instead of amaretto liqueur. My mom is not a big fan of almonds so I always try to omit them, and anything with their flavour from my baking. The best part of this tart in my opinion was the mascarpone whipped cream. The addition of mascarpone took this whipped cream right over the edge and even helped it to hold its shape better. I am going to be putting mascarpone into my whipped cream from now on. If you don’t know what mascarpone cheese is, think of it as the Italians version of cream cheese. It is a lot denser than cream cheese though, and less sour in taste. You can find it at all Italian grocery stores and most regular stores.
Making all of these desserts really brought me back to Tuscany. If you can’t take a trip to Italy, making one of these delicious desserts is the next best thing!
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