When most people think of Italian food, their minds go straight to pastas and pizzas. Italian desserts however are just as much a part of the history as the aforementioned main dishes.
Even the most disciplined dieter has a hard time turning down the many sweet treats inspired by Italian culture. Italian confections range in taste from bitter to sweet, but don’t expect anything too sweet. What you can expect is that most desserts from Italy go well with wine. Below are three Italian confections you just have to bake.
True Italian Biscotti
- 1 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely. (See how to blanch almonds.)
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Toast almonds 8 to 10 minutes
- Coarsely chop almonds. Set aside.
- Beat sugar and eggs until thick.
- Add almond extract.
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl.
- Add sifted dry ingredients to egg mixture and stir to combine.
- Fold in almonds.
- Form into a log about 12 inches long. Bake for 25 minutes until log is firm.
- Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Cut log on the slant into 3/4-inch slices.
- Place slices on a baking sheet and bake an additional 20 minutes (10 minutes per side) or until biscotti is dry and golden brown.
Nocciole (Italian Hazelnut Cookies)
- 1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp cocoa powder, sifted
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- pinch of salt
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Use a food processor to chop hazelnuts into a fine breadcrumb consistency.
- Add hazelnuts to sifted flour and cocoa powder.
- Cut in butter.
- Add sugar, egg yolk and salt to the dry mixture and combine using your hands. Butter should be well incorporated, and the consistency should be smooth and dough should stay together.
- Separate dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ¾-inch in diameter log. Place logs on baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.
- Slice logs into equal pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball. Place balls on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
- Dip cooled cookies in melted chocolate.
Strawberry Panna Cotta
- 1 lb. strawberries
- 1⁄2 cup. sugar
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin
- ¼ cup. water
- 1½ cup. whole milk
- 1 c. heavy whipping cream
- Garnish: sliced strawberries
- Lightly spray eight 4-oz. ramekins or cups with non-stick cooking spray.
- Puree strawberries and sugar in blender until smooth.
- Press puree through sieve. Discard seeds.
- Stir in vanilla.
- Separate 1 cup for the panna cotta.
- Pour gelatin over ¼ cup water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Put cup into a softly simmering pot of water. Stir gelatin until dissolved.
- Simmer milk in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Stir in reserved 1 cup puree and cream until blended well. Divide mixture evenly among the ramekins. Chill at least 4 hours until firm.
- Unmold the dessert onto a plate. Spoon strawberry puree over top of each one. Serve,