It’s that time of year, the time where pumpkin is everywhere, and not just in the kitchen. It’s pumpkin-scented hand soap, pumpkin-scented candles, pumpkin-scented hand lotion. And who can forget the lattes. While I love the scent, there is such a thing as too much!
I do love cooking, especially baking with pumpkin, and what’s more classic than a good old fashion pumpkin roll? I love the look of it, the smell as it bakes in the oven, and how well it pairs with a great homemade cappuccino. No need for a pumpkin latte for me, coffee should taste like coffee, but that’s just me.
While traditionally pumpkin rolls are filled with cream cheese frosting or cream, I much prefer an Italian spin and filling it with a deliciously sweet mascarpone filling. It’s less tangy than the traditional filling, sweeter and for me, a whole lot more delicious than the traditional filling. If you’re new to preparing rolls, take your time in the preparation, as it does take some skill. Don’t be discouraged if it breaks or cracks, practice makes perfect so you might have to make a few now, before showcasing one on your Thanksgiving table. Having to eat the less perfect ones is no sacrifice at all. Be sure to generously dust your cotton towel with the powdered sugar, as that will prevent it from sticking as it cools off.
Pumpkin Roll with Mascarpone Cream Filling
Yields 1 roll, serves 8 – 10
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to be sprinkled on towel while cooling)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mixed spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice mix)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin (100% canned pumpkin, do not use pie mix.)
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
It’s that time of year again, time to start thinking about the holiday, or the holiday menu, that is. Once October first rolls around, it seems time is on fast forward and before we know it, one of the most beloved US holiday is here, Thanksgiving, with Christmas immediately following.
If, like me, you’re looking to add something new to the table every year, to keep it interesting, than you will love these pistachio amaretti cookies. Amaretti are one of Italy’s most beloved cookie, and for good reasons, naturally gluten free, these nutty, chewy and very sweet cookies are the perfect ending to any meal. Traditional amaretti are made with almond flour or almond meal. This version uses a combination of almond and pistachio meal for a unique flavor, different from the original, but in no way less tasty! Light green, making them that much more festive, these treats are beautiful on their own, or decorated with a half maraschino cherry, to really make them festive.
You will find the recipe below to be exceptionally easy. Perfect for the novice baker, or the experienced baker who likes to mix things up, add these to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert table this year! As a bonus, these ship really well, and last up to several weeks in airtight cookie tins, making them the perfect cookie for gift giving to friends who live outside your area.
If you want to add to their green color, you can of course, add just a tiny drop of green food coloring. But don’t go overboard with this as it’s easy to go from pale green, to psychedelic green!
Pistachio Amaretti Cookies
Yields 40 + Cookies
3 cups almonds, ground to flour consistency
3 cups shelled pistachios, ground to flour consistency
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
1 tablespoon pure almond extract
Approximately 1 cup powdered sugar
Do you love the Bacio Perugina chocolates as much as I do? It is my all-time favorite Italian chocolate! The flavor of dark chocolate, paired together with my favorite nut, the hazelnut, what could possibly be better?
How about taking that flavor and turning it into the perfect Italian treat for coffee? Pizzelle are a specialty of the Abruzzo region and traditionally made with anise extract or anise seeds. But in the kitchen, it’s fun to experiment and play on classics, and with that in mind, how about preparing some chocolate hazelnut pizzelle? These taste like the cookie version of the Bacio. They’re chocolaty, not at all overly sweet, and have a nice crunch from the ground nuts. While they’re perfect with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, they also go great with a class of wine!
I want to offer you a few tips I’ve learned over the years of baking pizzelle:
Bacio Perugina Pizzelle
Yields Approximately 32 – 34 Pizzelle
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ - 2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup hazelnuts, ground
Non-stick cooking spray
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, or using a hand-held mixer, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugar until lighter in color, about 2 – 3 minutes.
3. With the mixer on low, add in the melted butter and whisk until combined.
4. With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
5. Turn the mixer off and add in the ground hazelnuts and with a spatula or wooden spoon mix to combine.
6. Heat the pizzelle iron according to instructions. Lightly spray the press with non-stick cooking spray and wipe off. Add about 1rounded teaspoon of batter on each imprint. Press the iron and bake for about 30 – 45 seconds, depending on your press. Remove from press and place on clean towel or cookie cooling rack to cool. They will crisp up as they cool off.
7. Optional: Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Fall is officially here, which means less outdoor barbequing and the oven gets turned back on! I don’t do much oven cooking in the summer, for obvious reasons. And as much as I love summer weather, fall and winter cooking for me is so much more fun. Less salads and more soups please!
And if you’re looking to have your house smelling delicious and like you’ve cooked all day, I recommend roasting some peppers immediately! Italians love roasted sweet peppers and we use them as a side dish, added to salads, or in a delicious sandwich or frittata. The method and list of ingredients does not vary much and though you could use green, orange or yellow peppers, the red ones are the easiest to peel and the sweetest ones to serve. Since peppers are mostly water, they will wilt substantially once roasted so you will end up needing more than you think. I usually roast about 10 at a time, because, if you’re going to turn the oven on, might as well do so for a bunch of them. Choose peppers that are bright in color, crisp and free of blemishes. And yes, some folks roast them directly on the stovetop over an open flame. I prefer roasting them in the broiler. It’s less hands on, you can roast many at a time, and the aroma will engulf your entire home.
Roasted Red Bell Peppers
6 – 10 large red bell peppers
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dry oregano
Fresh basil, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1. Turn oven on to broil and place the rack on the very top shelf. For easier clean up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Rinse the peppers under cold water, dry them with clean paper towels and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Roast peppers in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning the peppers on all sides every 5 or so minutes. 4. When peppers are charred on all sides, remove the tray from the oven and place the entire baking sheet in a large brown bag for a few minutes, this will steam them and make peeling easier. Peel peppers and remove all visible skin and seeds.
5. Cut peppers in strips and place them in a serving bowl. Season the peppers with oil, salt, oregano, basil and garlic. Serve immediately as a side dish, in a sandwich, added to salads, or as you wish. They can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
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