Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicilyby Rosetta Costantino
As a follow-up to her acclaimed My Calabria, Rosetta Costantino collects 75 favorite desserts from her/i>/b>
An authentic guide to the festive, mouthwatering sweets of Southern Italy, including regional specialties that are virtually unknown in this country as well as variations on more popular desserts such as cannoli, biscotti, and gelato.
As a follow-up to her acclaimed My Calabria, Rosetta Costantino collects 75 favorite desserts from her Southern Italian homeland, including the regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, and Sicily. These areas have a history of rich traditions and tasty, beautiful desserts, many of them tied to holidays and festivals. For example, in the Cosenza region of Calabria, Christmas means plates piled with grispelle (warm fritters drizzled with local honey) and pitta 'mpigliata (pastries filled with walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon). For the feast of Carnevale, Southern Italians celebrate with bugie("liars")--sweet fried dough dusted in powdered sugar, meant to tattle on those who sneak off with them by leaving a wispy trail of sugar. With fail-proof recipes and information on the desserts' cultural origins and context, Costantino illuminates the previously unexplored confectionary traditions of this enchanting region.
—Alice Medrich, author of Bittersweet and Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts
“I’ve been chasing down Southern Italian dessert recipes for thirty years, and my dear friend Rosetta just saved me another decade. She is truly one of the best Italian cooks I know!”
—Michael Chiarello, chef and owner of Bottega and Coqueta
“Reading this book, I pictured Rosetta moving between bakeries and homes throughout Southern Italy, her impeccable sweet tooth and culinary knowledge guiding her to the special sweets of each village. Brava to Rosetta for creating a book that’s original, tantalizing, and embodies the culture and spirit of her region.”
—Carol Field, author of The Italian Baker
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About This Book
I have organized the desserts of Southern Italy by region, with each chapter showcasing my favorites from among the area’s typical desserts and, occasionally, modern interpretations now found there. Representing the broad expanse of what you would find traveling through Sicily, Campania, Calabria, Puglia, and Basilicata, the recipes range from simple home desserts to the cutting-edge creations of Southern Italy’s finest restaurants and pastry shops. I’ve included desserts already well known and loved in America, such as gelato and cannoli, as well as regional specialties virtually unknown in this country and rarely, if ever, found in books, magazines, or online. The almond cookies filled with cherry preserves called Biscotti di Ceglie, a typical sweet in one of Puglia’s oldest towns, or the ricotta and semolina cake made for Carnevale in Naples called Il Migliaccio may be found in Italian cookbooks and on Italian websites, but to my knowledge these have not been heretofore available in English. Others, such as the Biscotti Eureka, Africano, and Foglie da Te’, I found in pastry shops while traveling through the region, returning to decipher cryptic advice from pastry chefs to reproduce them. These have been some of my favorites to develop, crowned by the satisfaction of creating something that looks and tastes utterly authentic, or even better than the original.
I have shared here only a small sample of the thousands of recipes enjoyed in Southern Italy. My dearest hope is that not only will you make and enjoy them in your home, but that you might consider visiting and falling in love with this magical area that offers my most cherished sweets (and savory foods, as well). The desserts found in homes, pastry shops, gelaterie, and restaurants still surprise and delight me, and I find something both comforting and familiar, yet new and exciting, each time I return. This book is meant to bring these desserts-many of which are found in the United States primarily among Italian populations, if at all-into our common lexicon, preserving them for future generations. It is my invitation to you to share in the sweetness of my favorite desserts.
Pasticcini di Mandorla
-soft almond cookies
Makes about 36 small cookies
These little almond cookies are found all over Sicily and often in other parts of Southern Italy as well. They are pretty piped with a star tip into rosettes or into “S” shapes, but you needn’t be adept at piping; more often they are simply formed into balls and rolled either in confectioners’ sugar or chopped nuts before baking, as I have done here.
1 2/3 cups (250 g) blanched almonds (page 189)
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons mild-flavored honey, such as clover or orange blossom
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Confectioners’ sugar, finely chopped pistachios or hazelnuts, sliced almonds, or whole pine nuts, for coating
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine the almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor and process until they have the texture of fine meal, scraping the bowl down occasionally to evenly grind the nuts. Transfer the almonds to a bowl and use a spatula to mix in the egg whites, honey, and almond extract until evenly combined.
You can coat the cookies all in confectioners’ sugar or a single type of nut, or make an assortment by using several different coatings. Whichever you choose, place each coating in a separate shallow bowl.
Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out level tablespoons of the dough, making thirty-six cookies in total. Roll each dough piece between your palms to form a ball.
To coat the cookies, roll one ball in a topping (confectioners’ sugar or nuts), firmly pressing the nuts into the dough with your hands. Continue to coat all the cookies, transferring them to the prepared baking sheet as you form them, allowing 1 inch all around each cookie for spreading.
Bake the cookies until they are light golden and still soft to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
Author and cooking instructor ROSETTA COSTANTINO was born and raised in Verbicaro, a small wine-producing hill town in Calabria, at the southern tip of Italy. She is the author (with Janet Fletcher) of My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010) which was nominated for an IACP award in 2011.
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Title: Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily Author: Rosetta Costantino, Jennie Schacht Publisher: Random House LLC Published: 10-8-2013 ISBN-10: 1607744023 ISBN-13: 978-1607744023 E-Book ASIN: B00CCPIL70 Pages: 224 Genre: Food & Wine Tags: Cooking, Regional More than just a cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts takes you through a brief history of the deserts from the Italian region. The different equipment you will need are listed. Items you will want to keep in your pantry so that you will be prepared. Then we get to the part everyone is looking for - recipes. The authors have been kind enough to divide the the recipes into the various regions of Italy so that you can enjoy the subtle differences in taste and style from each area. Each southern region begins with a brief description of the region and how the individual dishes developed. The recipes are in plain easy to follow directions and are at a skill level for those who are new to cooking to those who have years of experience as a professional chef. It you have a sweet tooth like I do then you will want this on your shelf because you will be hard pressed to find a more fine collections of sweet desserts and other Italian recipes. Don't miss a chance to enjoy these recipes from around Italy today.
Fantastic book on several levels. Everyone always says the Italians don't eat desserts - just cheese and fruits. Not true from the south. Some of these are ones I kind of remember seeing when I was a kid. The pics are GREAT and the historical information is invaluable. Book is about perfect!!!