Chestnut Chocolate and Hazelnut Cannoli

Yes, it’s this time of the month. And the current Daring Bakers’ challenge is Italian cannoli hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives, who chose the recipe from the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book. The dough recipe was mandatory but the filling options were left entirely up to the bakers.

My filling was a mixture of chestnut puree, fresh ricotta, mascarpone, grated bittersweet chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and a bit of dark rum. This is what I used for stuffing the traditional cannoli shells.

I also fried larger in diameter, cylinder-shaped shells, so I could play a little. Into the bottom of these shells I fitted the circle cut-outs of chocolate-chestnut cake. I topped them with almost the same chestnut filling mentioned earlier, but lightened with some whipped cream to make the consistency more mousse-like. The very last layer was bittersweet chocolate ganache.

Lisa, thank you very much for the delicious challenge! We all (well.., everyone who can eat nuts) loved it!

Happy Holidays!

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Paste Fritte (Fried Pizza Dough with Soppressata and Sage)

Paste Fritte (Fried Pizza Dough with Soppressata and Sage)

I was feeling lazy today. It happens sometimes. To tell you the truth it strikes me far more often than I’d like. So, instead of cooking dinner I fried a big basket of bread sticks (they can be called that :) studded with Soppressata and flavored with sage. And I made a big bowl of the crisp-fresh arugula salad to go with these fries. And wine, of course… There were no complaints.

The recipe is an adaptation of Carol Fields’s recipe from her wonderful book “Italy in small bites”. Truly, I don’t know who writes better about Italian food and traditions than her. The book is pure enjoyment. As well as the bread sticks :) You can add small cubes of pancetta or ribbons of prosciutto to the dough. I went with Soppressata since that what I had in the fridge at that moment. Use different kind of herb as well, if you wish.

Paste Fritte (Fried Pizza Dough with Soppressata and Sage) Inside

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Zeppoli

Zeppoli

I guess everybody is familiar with classic Italian fritters. These are scented with nutmeg and lemon zest. Sure, they are good (as any food fried, to be honest) and incredibly tender. Fried and still warm zeppoli are divided between the lunch bags and then shaken with some icing sugar to coat. This dish should be very popular among kids – everyone gets his own bag of fritters. Isn’t it appealing? But I would serve it in the backyard for sure, not at home.

I don’t cook them often but occasionally I give my boys such a pleasure. To make the fritters a bit “healthier” I always use organic canola oil for frying and dump it as soon as all the batter is fried. I use rather small high-sided saucepan which requires only about 2 cups of oil, so I don’t feel myself as a squanderer. If it still seems like a terrible waste, the oil can be reused once (I would although try to talk you out of using the same oil more than twice). Let the used oil cool, then drain it into an airtight container leaving any sediment behind and store it in the refrigerator until the next use.

The recipe is from Sherry Yard’s latest book “Desserts by the Yard”. If my description isn’t convincing enough, may be mentioning the author’s name will help…

Zeppoli Inside

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Honey-Drizzled Chocolate Ricotta Fritters

Honey-Drizzled Chocolate Ricotta Fritters

These are wonderful and irresistible. I’m not promoting fried food here, but it won’t hurt to treat yourself once (or several times) in a while.

The recipe is from “Chocolate Holidays”.

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