Clarification: Comments will be accepted as contest entries on any/all 10 Dolce Italiano posts through Friday, December 7th (11:59p.m. Pacific Standard Time).
I’m joining fellow bloggers and Italy lovers Ilva from Lucullian Delights, Michelle from Bleeding Espresso, Shelley from At Home in Rome and Jenn from the Leftover Queen to highlight recipes from Gina DePalma’s cookbook Dolce Italiano. Read Shelley’s contest preview for more information about the contest.
Every weekday for two weeks, one of the five bloggers will be highlighting a recipe from the cookbook and we’ll be bringing you a great opportunity: win a personalized and signed copy of Gina’s book! All you need to do to be entered is comment on this post and other Dolce Italiano posts! You can comment on each post, giving you 10 chances to enter!
As executive pastry chef at Mario Batali’s NYC restaurant Babbo, Gina hardly needs an introduction. But if you’d like more information about Gina DePalma, read parts 1, 2, and 3 of Shelley’s interview with Gina. It’s insightful!
I have the extreme pleasure of showcasing the first recipe from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano.
Being so far from a bookstore stocked with English cookbooks, I really have to make a connection with an author or a cookbook/recipe online to seek out the cookbook. Gina hooked me from the first paragraph of her introduction (all I can say is: lemon, but I’ll get to that later) and I felt not only a kinship with her as an Italian-American, but also with her desire to become an expat in Italy. Gina lets you into her pastry world, with a great introduction to the pastry kitchen’s equipment, and a wonderful focus on Italian and Italian ingredients which is really important for anyone who wants to cook with Italian ingredients in or out of Italy. Helpful hints and side stories are sprinkled throughout the cookbook, and I especially enjoyed the “Celebrations” section where some of Italy’s traditional holiday desserts shine.
Gina’s first lesson as a future expat was unfortunately a hard one. When we started organizing this, we had hoped to exclusively preview the cookbook online the week it was released. And we waited.
And the release date passed. And still we waited for the books to arrive. And we could only shake our heads, shrug our shoulders and say, Le Poste Italiane. Adjusting to the postal system in a new country is just one of the hurdles of living here. Gina, unfortunately, soon you’ll understand.
I also think Mosaic Biscotti are a perfect recipe for adapting to a new country – they are delicious and leave room for a little imagination and creativity, and next time I’m considering putting in some dried cranberries I’ve been hoarding. I also found that they go really well with my homemade basil liquor.
adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano. Below is the original recipe. Immediately following the ingredients, I included my notes on how I modified the recipe.
3 1/2c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1t. baking powder
1t. kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks, plus 1 egg white for the glaze
2c. granulated sugar, plus 1 1/2T. for the glaze
2 t. pure vanilla extract
12oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2c. skinned or unskinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
2c. whole, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
I halved this recipe (1 3/4c. flour, etc.) for practical reasons since in the cookbook she says to use two baking trays simultaneously and I don’t have two available. It worked perfectly! I also substituted almonds for the hazelnuts and used 75% extra dark chocolate. She also recommends using a serrated knife to cut them, but I used my supersharp Santoku knife so as not to saw and smear the chocolate on the slices. The following directions were for my half batch. If using the original recipe, you will divide the dough onto two baking sheets and bake simultaneously.
- Preheat the oven to 325F (160C) and grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer.
- Add the vanilla extract, continue beating and add in the dry ingredients and then the chocolate and nuts. At this point I mixed with a wooden spoon until all ingredients were thoroughly mixed.
- Form two logs of dough on each baking sheet (note: if you are making the full recipe, Gina recommends making 5 logs on two different baking sheets and baking simultaneously – if you have halved the recipe, you’ll only need 1 sheet – 2 logs). Beat the remaining egg white(s) and brush on logs. In absence of a pastry brush, I found my hands to be a good substitute. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Bake until lightly golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20-25 minutes. Cool the logs on the baking sheets (but remove or turn them on the parchment paper so all the moisture isn’t trapped underneath) for about 40 minutes.
- Turn oven back to 200F (90C). With a very sharp knife (or serrated) slice the logs on a slight diagonal into 1/4″ wide slices. Lay on the baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 20 minutes or more, until toasted and crisp. Cool completely before storing in airtight containers
So, comment away to be entered in the contest, and check Ilva from Lucullian Delights‘s post tomorrow for another great recipe and another chance to win!
Disclaimer: While I did receive a free copy of this cookbook, we bloggers were the ones who propositioned Gina for permission to get a sneak peek at the cookbook and organize the contest.