Mimosa Cake: a lemony resemblance of a beautiful flower

Every year on March 8th it’s International Women’s Day, a celebration to commemorate various episodes in the modern history where women have tried to remark their rights and the social and political struggles that women have faced for centuries.  Many countries in Europe recognize this celebration and so does Italy.  In Italy on this special day, it is custom of giving a mimosa flower to every woman. This habit can be traced back to around 1946. The flowers were intended to be given as a sign of respect and a contrast to the red roses on Valentine’s day.

The recipe I am sharing today is about a cake that would resemble this beautiful bright yellow flower with a lovely scent, which is indeed mostly prepared on March 8th to celebrate Women Day. Since I didn’t have a recipe of my own, I surfed around and through many I picked the one proposed by “Trattoria da Martina” (you should check her food blog, it’s amazing!), and as usual, I translated it in English (well, my English 🙂 ) and converted the quantities  with the Imperial System just for you!

This cake is absolutely heaven, the consistency is very light considering that the base is a simple sponge cake, flavored with lemon and filled with Chantilly cream.

INGREDIENTS for 9” springform pan

For the sponge cake

2/3 cup (140 gr.) sugar

4 large eggs (at room temperature)

1 cup (8 oz. or 140 gr.) 00 flour*

1 grated lemon zest

For the Chantilly cream

4 egg yolks

4 oz. (or 1/2 cup or120 gr.) sugar

1/3 cup (or 60 gr.) flour

14 oz. (or 1 1/3 cup or 400 ml.) whole milk

1 grated lemon zest

8 oz. (or 1 cup or 250 ml.) whipping cream

For the Syrup

4 oz. (1/2 cup or 100 gr.) water

2 oz. (1/4 cup or 50 gr.) sugar

a lemon zest (just the yellow part)

DIRECTIONS

MAKE THE SPONGE By using an electric whip (or, even better, by using a stand mixer), whip the eggs with the sugar for about 15-20 minutes. When the batter looks almost white, and stiff and fluffy, start to add the flour sifted in three times, and stir gently from the bottom to the top to avoid the batter to become liquid. Add the lemon zest and transfer the batter in a 9” springform pan previously lined with parchment. Bake for 30 minutes at 360 F. (180 C.) and once baked, let it cool off out of the springform pan and upside down.

While the sponge cake cools off, prepare THE CHANTILLY CREAM and SUGAR SYRUP.

First make a custard by following these directions, but with the quantities listed above. Let the custard cooling off and in the meanwhile prepare the sugar syrup by boiling for five minutes the water with the sugar and lemon zest.   Once the custard is completely cooled off whip the whipping cream, set aside about 2 oz. (50 gr.) of it for later, and mix the rest gently with the custard.

A this point also the Syrup should be cooled enough to start arranging the cake.

ARRANGE THE CAKE

With  a serrate knife, take away the “dark” crust of the sponge cake, both from the side and top. Divide the sponge cake in three layers (or two if your sponge cake didn’t raise as you wanted)  keeping the bottom one a little thicker than the other twos (or one).  Dig the bottom layer of the sponge (don’t trough away the crumbs!) but keep about 0.2” (1/2 cm) of the sponge along the circumference (this will work as a container for the cream you are about to spread).  Soak the sponge with the sugar syrup (take away the zest) and then spread a super thin layer of whipped cream, and then fill the gap with Chantilly cream.

Cover with the second sponge disk, and repeat: first wet the sponge with syrup, then spread a thin layer of whipping cream and finally the Chantilly. Close the cake with the last layer. Soak it with syrup** and use all the left Chantilly (mixed with any possible whipped cream leftover) to cover evenly the entire cake.

Last, and after having finely crumbled the cake crumbs (by hand!), attach all the crumbs to the top layer and sides of the cake and decorate the Mimosa Cake with few mint leaves and a strawberry.

LEARN IT, MADE IT, LOVE IT!

TIPS: *here in Mid west I’ve looked everywhere for 00 flour but with no succes. 00 flour is a “weak flour” with a very low percentage of protein. If you use the ALL PURPOSE flour to make the sponge cake, it may happen that it would not raise properly. In this case I would suggest you to add 3 tsp. of baking powder to the batter when adding the sifted flour.

** When I made this cake I followed precisely the quantities indicated, but once I got to the last layer of the cake, my sugar syrup wasn’t enough to soak all of it. I added a little bit of milk to my syrup: the sponge turned out perfectly soaked and the taste of milk was imperceptible.

– This cake is much more easier to make than to be explained 🙂 so don’t hesitate to try to make it the same day you are wishing to eat it!

– Considering the uses of whipped cream and custard this cake would last no more than two day in the refrigerator.

– The color of my Mimosas cake wasn’t exactly as bright as the real flower. I didn’t like the idea of using food coloring to get a more decisive yellow, and the eggs I  brought at the store (even if organic) had that light shade of yellow. So, in case you want to obtain a brighter yellow color, consider adding food coloring, or use eggs with extra yellow yolks.

– Before to post the recipe, and very close to International Women day I asked my husband to buy me a mimosa flower (it would have been cool putting the flower near my cake in the picture to show the similarity). However, apparently in Iowa the only Mimosa known is the Cocktail (Lol!).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this recipe, I hope it was worth it! 

Be honest, did you know that Mimosa is a flower (and a tree) other than a Cocktail? 

Happy Women Day to every women all around the word, on March 8th and everyday!

 Talk to you soon

Silvia

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Semifreddo al torrone: how to get rid off “extra” Torrone

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Since Italians love food, and Italian food (as everybody knows) is absolutely delicious, it is pretty common that for Christmas, Italian friends and families exchange edible gifts. Usually these gifts consist of big, beautiful boxes or baskets decorated with Christmas themes and full of goodies such as deli, coffee, chocolate, wine, Panettone and more. One that’s never missing is Torrone (o Mandorlato).

When I lived in Italy, it often happened that during Christmas Holiday I received 4-5 packs of Torrone (or Mandorlato), and it was always hard to eat it all without feeling sick by the end!!

Thank goodness my grandmother (probably because SHE also was overwhelmed by huge quantities of Torrone at Christmas time 😉 ), used to prepare this really, really delicious dessert to get rid off the extra Torrone. And although most Americans will probably not have an excess of Torrone at the holidays, it can be found easily in many stores here in the U.S.  Plus, this absolutely stunning dessert is easy to make, not requiring any particular baking or cooking talent! But the best part of this dessert is the fusion between the frozen creamy compound and the warm chocolate used for garnishing… absolutely heaven!

Before we go ahead with the recipe, you should probably know what Torrone is! 🙂 Well, it is a treat typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with nuts or toasted almonds  (in which case it is called Mandorlato), and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake. It is frequently consumed as a traditional Christmas dessert in Italy, Spain and countries formerly under the Spanish empire as well, particularly in Latin America.

The Torrone I’ve  found shopping here in US looked like this, and it tasted mostly like the Italian one:

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INGREDIENTS for about 6 small cups of semifreddo 

7 0z. torrone – 200 gr. torrone (hazelnuts or almonds)
2 eggs – 2 uova
7 oz. whipped cream – 3 dl. panna da montare
2 oz. (or 1/4 cup) sugar – 50 g. zucchero
5 oz. dark chocolate – 150 g cioccolato fondente
chopped toasted hazelnuts for garnish

(if your Torrone has few nuts inside, consider using an extra handful of nuts)

DIRECTIONS:

First of all, grind the Torrone (and any extra nuts, if using) in a food processor.

Separate the yolks from the whites and put them in two separate bowls. Whip the whites with an electric whisk until they form stiff peaks.

Measure out and whip about 2/3 of the whipping cream.

Beat the sugar with the yolks for few minutes to obtain a light and fluffy compound.

Fold into the beaten yolks the whipped cream and the egg whites, a little at a time, stirring gently from the bottom to the top.

Then, add the crumbled Torrone  and nuts, again stirring gently until you obtain a homogeneous mixture.

Portion out into 6 ramekins, lined with plastic wrap. Then transfer into the freezer for about 3-4 hours.

Before serving the dessert, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or microwave) and mix it with the remaining whipped cream.

 

Flip the frozen desserts onto plates and garnish with the chocolate sauce, and chopped hazelnuts or nuts.

Your guests will be very impressed by the beauty and deliciousness of this dessert!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tip: If you don’t have small ramekins you can use a pudding mold instead.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

ZUCCOTTO: you will love it, even without a translation!

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I love cooking and eating all kinds of food, but I can’t hide that my favorite foods are “cake, cookies, and beyond.” So even though I try to publish as many healthy and savory recipes as possible, I can’t help myself but to make a cake or a dessert and post it!

Zuccotto is an Italian dessert with origins in Florence. It is a semifreddo dessert (which means it is served semi-frozen), and usually made with brandy, cake and ice cream. Traditionally, it is made in a special pumpkin-shaped mold (Zuccotto means “little pumpkin” in Italian).

This week I’m sharing with you the Zuccotto recipe that my grandma made for us anytime she knew we were visiting.  Different from the typical recipe, she used rum instead of brandy, butter cookies instead of cake, and mascarpone cheese cream instead of ice cream. I know, it sounds like a completely different dessert (and it probably is), but we have called it by that name forever, so I will keep calling the recipe I’m sharing with you “Zuccotto.”

With all these decadent ingredients, it of course has a considerable amount of calories. You’ll probably want to go on a diet for the entire next week, because once you taste it, you will not be able to stop eating it!

So this time, enjoy your yummy dessert, and let the “swim suit challenge” wait for a day! 😉

INGREDIENTS for a “salad bowl size cake”

2 cups espresso coffee

15 oz. butter cookies (2 packets) or graham crackers

16 oz. mascarpone cheese  (2 containers)

3 tbs. Nutella

4 yolks and 3 egg whites

2/3 cup or 8 tbs. sugar

3 tbs. rum

heavy whipped cream to decorate

 DIRECTIONS

Add to the cooled coffee two tablespoons of rum.

Coat a salad bowl with abundant aluminum foil (you will need the extra to cover the top of the cake). Try to arrange the paper as smooth as possible.

Drench the butter cookies into the coffee and coat the inside of the bowl evenly.

Prepare the mascarpone cream following the recipe of tiramisu, but with the quantities as described above (here the pictures of the process, just in case).

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Divide the mascarpone cream you have created into two equal parts. Then remove 3 tablespoons from one dish and add it to the other.

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In the more abundant dish, stir in 1 tablespoon of rum. In the other dish, stir in the Nutella.

Pour the Nutella cream inside the bowl, and then cover it with two layers of soaked biscuits.

Now pour the “rum cream” on top, and again cover it with two more layers of soaked biscuits.

Close the cake in the aluminum foil  and put in the freezer for at least three hours (be careful not to flip the cake: the bowl has to stay upside down!).

 

Half an hour before you wish to serve the cake, take it off the freezer and peel off the aluminum foil from the top.

Flip the cake onto a nice tray, and peel off the rest of the foil.

Whip the heavy whipping cream (don’t add any sugar, the Zuccotto is sugary enough!) and use the whipped cream to decorate it. If you prefer, you can decorate it with Nutella, or with half cream and half Nutella according to your creative liking.

It will taste like an ice-cream cake, super fresh and scrumptious!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tips: – When you unwrap the cake from the aluminum foil, be careful not to break the foil or leave small pieces of it in the cake: eating aluminum foil is horrible! (The idea of an aluminum foil bite under my teeth makes me shiver!)

– Your kids will love this cake, and if you are afraid they could recognize the taste of the rum, just avoid using it; your zuccotto will be delicious anyway -just less alcoholic!

– The quantities I gave you are for a quite big cake, so if you don’t want to eat it all by yourself (which is absolutely easy to do since it is delicious), make it, freeze it, and take it out when there are at least 6-8 people present.

– If you want to make a different size of this cake, remember that for each egg yolks, you’ll need 2 tbs. of sugar.

 

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,

share it, like it, leave a comment, subscribe, and help support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

Amaretti and Rum Tiramisu: a “RESTRICTED” dessert!

You already know that I am a mom of three who loves cooking, so my recipes are mostly fast, easy, and made to make people of any age happy- kiddos included.

But this time I’m sharing with you the recipe of a dessert JUST FOR ADULTS since it contains alcohol.  This one could be served for a special date, where your “cherry on top of the cake” after a romantic dinner will be an alcoholic dessert.

I’m certain you will love it, and it will make your “adults only night” unforgettable!!!

INGREDIENTS for a 7” diameter bowl

1/4 cup espresso coffee   – 1 tazzina di caffe espresso

1/4 cup Rum    – 1 tazzina di Rum

8 oz. (1 container) mascarpone cheese – 200 gr. mascarpone

3 yolks – 3 tuorli

2 egg whites – 2 albumi

about 6.5 oz. Amaretti cookies – 180 gr. circa di Amaretti

5 tbs. sugar – cinque cucchiai di zucchero

1 tsp. vanilla extract – 1 cucchiaino di aroma alla vaniglia

cocoa for dusting – cacao per spolverizzare

DIRECTIONS

To make a real “Italian Style Espresso” click here.

Mix the cooled espresso coffee with the Rum in a soup bowl.

Dip the Amaretti into the coffee and Rum mixture for about 10-15 seconds and lay them on the bottom of a glass bowl.  (I prefer to use a glass bowl in order to obtain a more beautiful effect where all the layers are visible.)

Next, make the Mascarpone cream.  The steps you follow are the same as the Tiramisu cream, but with the quantities specified here.  But to help keep things simple, I have described the steps again here.   Whip the egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl, combine the yolks with the sugar and vanilla flavoring, and whip them, too.  The reason for whipping the yolks with sugar is to allow them to incorporate air, and obtain a more fluffy mascarpone cream.

Gently fold the Mascarpone cheese into the whipped yolks.  Then fold in the whipped whites, being careful not to make the cream turn to liquid.

Next, spoon a bit of the cream mixture over the Amaretti,  not too much, just enough to cover the cookies.

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Then make another layer of Amaretti dipped in the alcohol mix and cover with some of the cream.  Again, use just enough cream to hide the cookies.

Then make the third layer of Amaretti dipped in alcohol mix.  This time the cream layer on top will be thick-using all the remaining cream to fill every free spot between the Amaretti, even along the edges down to the lower layers.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

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Before serving, dust the top with cocoa powder.

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LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT !

 

Tips: – You can freeze the Tiramisu and thaw it a couple of hours before serving it, but since the quantity is pretty small, I suggest you make it fresh the day you’ll enjoy it.

– Usually they sell Amaretti cookies in 7 oz. containers. With the leftover cookies, you can make BACI DI DAMA.

– If you have leftovers (good luck with that!)  it will be good for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

– Although this contains alcohol, if you intend to get drunk by eating this dessert, you will at least have to eat it all. 🙂

 

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, and support my blog!

Much thanks,

Silvia

 

ITALIAN MERINGUES: what a cloud should taste like if we could give it a bite!

meringhe
MERINGUE

Did you know that, in Italy, the dessert which you call “meringues” are instead called Spumiglie?

Meringues,” to us Italians, are those Spumiglie stuffed with whipped cream (as you see in the picture) … a seriously delicious dessert

that you can make at home with no special tools

but a good oven… and lot of patience.

When, some time ago, I offered this dessert to one of my American friends, she told me that to her my meringues are like biting into a cloud!

And I loved this comparison because it very much fits:

they are white, and fluffy, but crunchy at the same time…. a pleasure that will met in your mouth.

Just a warning: most of the time I tell you that a recipe is easy, but this time I should warn you that even if the instructions are pretty easy to follow, the result can depend on the power of your oven and the respect of the ingredient’s quantities, and it may take more than one try before you obtain the desired result!

This dessert is the perfect present to bring along for a dinner invitation, as well as a unique and fancy offering when you host a party.

INGREDIENTS

200 gr. cold egg whites (usually 6 or 7 cold eggs whites)

2 cups sugar

1 tsp lemon extract

1 box heavy whipping cream (for the filling)

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TOOLS REQUIRED

An electric mixer and a container perfectly clean and free of any oils,

(I usually use a large glass jar about 9 inches diameter 15-16 inches tall (to help the whites to whip better),

but if you own a stand mixer that works perfectly)

A cake decorator

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your oven at 260-270 degrees F.

Beat the egg whites inside the container until they are almost completely foamy and look glossy.

Sift in 3/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff (you should obtain a compound shiny and fluffy).

Gently add the remaining 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar, stirring with a hand-whisk, plus the teaspoon of lemon extract. Be very careful not to deflate the mixture.

On a baking sheet (or two) covered with baking paper, use the cake decorator to make tufts of the mixture about 1 inch big,

being careful to maintain a certain distance from each other because during cooking they will raise.

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Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven (260-270 degrees F) for 30-40 minutes.

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Then take them out of the oven and quickly flip the Spumiglie, puncture the flat side of each one with the tip of your finger,

and put them back in the oven for another half hour, to let them cook also on the opposite side.

At this point you have got about 50 Spumiglie (but obviously the number depends on the size you have made them).

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Now, whip the whipping cream, and with the help of a teaspoon pat the cream inside each Spumiglia (thanks to the hole you created before),

and then attach them in pairs to obtain MERINGUES!

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Keep the meringues in the refrigerator, and take them out just before you serve (or eat) them!

You won’t believe how good this dessert is, and once you’ve made it, I’m sure you will repeat the recipe very often!!!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT !

 

TIPS:

– If well-cooked, the Spumiglie can be stored in a tin can or glass jar for up to a month.  Of course, once stuffed with whipped cream, it’s advisable to consume them within a day or two.  So I recommend to stuff the Spumiglie only in   the desired amount and store the extras for later (perhaps for making a delicious MERINGATA).

– You’ll know if your Spumiglie turned out or not when, chewing them, they should not be chewy inside, but crispy and fragrant.

– When my mother makes Spumiglie, she turns on the oven in the convection function, lets them cook for the first 5 minute with the oven door closed, and for the rest of the time with the oven door cracked opened. I’m telling you this because I really hope you will not be discouraged if, the first time you attempt this recipe, it doesn’t result as expected! The secret to perfect meringues is that they have to cook slowly, so they become crunchy also in the inside.