I would like to pay homage to my Abruzzo region with this recipe: unsweetened cocoa cupcakes with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, our intense ruby-red wine.
I gave the name “drunk cupcakes” as they hide a bit of wine in their dough, and they are glazed with wine and cocoa icing. In the oven they will give off a strong chocolate flavor combined with the typical red-berry scent of the Montepulciano wine.
The perfect pairing for Montepulciano is with red meat, but I chose to use it for this miniature cakes, topped with sour cherry in syrup, my “cherry on the cake!”
60 gr unsweetened cocoa powder
200 gr sugar
200 gr butter
100 ml Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine
150 gr wheat flour
2 spoonfuls of Altino mild pepper powder (*)
1 pinch of salt
1 pack baking powder (16 gr)
Sour cherries in syrup to decorate
(*)you can use some hot chili pepper powder, if you like.
Muffin moulds, and crimped paper cups
Use a food processor to mix sugar, unsweetened cocoa, butter (non viene elencato negli ingredienti) and wine.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook for a few minutes on low heat until boiling point. Set aside about a glass of this glaze (about 170 grams).
Pour the remaining glaze into a blender bowl, add eggs, sift in wheat, pepper and baking powder, with a pinch of salt. Blend until it gets smooth.
Place the paper cups into the muffin mould and fill them 3/4 full max. If a muffin mould is not available, pour the mixture into a 24 cm diameter cake pan or into a ring-shaped mould.
Bake at 180 °C, 20-25 minutes. Check with a toothpick if ready (toothpick should come out clean).
Take the cupcakes out of the oven, remove them form the moulds and with a spoon top each cake with Montepulciano glaze.
Serve it with some sour cherries in syrup whose sweet flavour will perfectly match the Montepulciano.
A shot of ratafià liqueur will be the perfect pairing for these pastry.
When portable phones became popular, callers did not say “How are you?” any more but “Where are you?”
Being somewhere else from the landline phone device was (then) so weird that the first question did not concern how you were but rather the place you were answering from.
Twenty-some years later, with our ubiquitous smartphones in our hands, we should change the question once more and ask “What are you having for lunch/dinner?”. If you have not realized it yet, most of the time people use their smartphones for taking pictures of food.
Browsing through any profile (may it be Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn) you can be sure to find pics of food. There is nothing wrong about that. I mean, if you’re in Australia and you are about to bite into some witchety grubs (i.e. larvae of the cossid moth Endoxyla leucomochla) perhaps your main concern will be to take a snap of your snack and inform your dear ones that you will survive that faceful ordeal (by the way, larvae taste vaguely of almonds and, believe it or not, they are one of the most sought-after food among Aborigines).
The point is how good are the pictures we take in order to arouse interest, curiosity or pleasure, because more often than not the shots we see on line are blurry, too dark or over-exposed, photobombed or at least with a dozen of undesired elements that ruin the picture.
Appetibilis Team and Ristorante Spazio 33 in Lanciano (a lovely town in Abruzzo) tried to give some useful tips for amateur food photographers. This was not meant to be a photography course, rather an informal evening with people who are willing to improve their photography techniques.
At the cosy and intimate venue of Spazio 33, customers found a miniature photographic set, some basic photographic gear and were asked to take pictures of the dishes they were going to have.
Between some “Brussels sprouts with gorgonzola cheese, grapes and almonds” and a mouth-watering heap of “tortellini stuffed with porcini mushroom scented with lavender buds”, guests challenged themselves with lights, exposures and layouts.
People had the chance to take snaps of “carne salada (i.e. salted meat) carpaccio topped with Tropea onion chutney and marsala”. Not bad, eh?
The good thing about shooting food is that it is does not move (unless you are having witchety grubs) and after the shot, you will actually “enjoy” it. The bad thing is that lights, shadows and reflection on dishes and props will be difficult to manage if you do not master the basics of food photography.
Appetibilis team tried to give some tips on how to make the snaps really enticing for all those who did not have the luck to try the real dishes.
Did we succeed in doing so?
“Always kiss the cook” #InstaFoodSpazio33 #AtelierAppetibilis
Brussels sprouts are comfortably sitting on a gorgonzola cream bed… #InstaFoodSpazio33 #AtelierAppetibilis
What about tortelloni? Gorgeous and succulent!#InstaFoodSpazio33 #AtelierAppetibilis
Ristorante Spazio 33 Lanciano (CH) #InstaFoodSpazio33 #AtelierAppetibilis
Carne salada, a perfect blend of scent and tastes #InstaFoodSpazio33 #AtelierAppetibilis
Tiramisù: the perfect dessert for an outstanding dinner#InstaFoodSpazio33 #AtelierAppetibilis
Diamond-patterned waffles whose ingredients are very simple: eggs, wheat flour, sugar, lemon and oil. They are usually offered two by two and filled with sweet stuffing. The name? Pizzelle, ferratelle, neole, coperchiole or cancellate describe the same Abruzzese pastry – names change according to the area they are made.
You cannot make pizzelle without the tool and, needless to say, tools vary in shapes and patterns: a rectangular shape with diamond pattern is very popular, so is the round one with tiny hearts engraved on it. In the old days, the tool (“il ferro”) used to be heated up directly on fire; nowadays electrically-operated waffle makers are easier to use.
Tradition says that pizzelle tool was usually presented to the bride and it was customized with the family coat of arms.
Or, more likely, with the ancestors’ initials on one side, and the manufacturing year on the other side. Oldest tools date back in 1700.
Cooking procedure is simple, just put the tool on the flame, spread some oil on its surface, heat the surface and then pour a spoonful of the mixture.
It takes about 1 minute to cook, traditionally the time to say a prayer on one side, turn the tool and say another prayer. But let’s hear it from Sara:
“I love to use my grandmother’s tool, the rectangular one with diamond-shape pattern, but I have some “modern” pizzelle makers with deeper grooves: pizzelle are softer and they look like French Gauffres or Belgian Waffles. They can be stuffed with custard, jam, hazelnut cream, or honey and nuts. The recipe I am going to show is for Heart-shaped “Pizzelle”…
6 spoonfuls of sugar
6 spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil (evo)
1 and 1/2 spoonful of wheat all purpose flour (Italian 00)
1 lemon – grated zest
Use a recipe of your preference.
Here’s the link to a light and gluten free easy recipe from The Hairy Bikers
500 gr of strawberries
Chopped hazelnuts to taste
Waffle maker with irons
In a bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until you get a creamy and yellow mixture, add lemon zest, oil and flour.
Should the mixture be too liquid, add another spoonful of flour, [our grandmothers were adding the flour as last ingredients without having a specific dosage 😉
Place the open waffle maker on the stove fire, grease the iron with some oil and let it heat. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture on the iron, close the maker, wait for 30 seconds, turn it on the other side and let cook for another 30′, then open it and remove the waffle with a fork prong.
If you use an electrically-operated maker, grease it, pour the mixture and let cook for 1 minute, then open it and remove the waffle.
Spread some custard on one side the waffle, top it with sliced strawberries, put another waffle on top and dust with icing sugar and chopped hazelnuts.
Depending on how many different types of iron you have, you can unleash your fantasy about size, style and stuffing you prefer.
I’ve made a second batch on a rectangular iron; soft and delicious with chocolate-hazelnut custard.
Le pesche all’alchermes sono un classico dolcetto della tradizione italiana. Di origine romagnola, ma diffuse in tutte le regioni italiane, mi ricordano l’infanzia perché presenti un po’ in tutte le feste, dal Natale alla Pasqua e poi alla Festa della mamma.
Sono delle semisfere di biscotto ripiene di crema pasticcera o crema gianduia o marmellata, inzuppate nell’alchermes e poi fatte rotolare nello zucchero per dare quel colore rosa tipico del frutto.
L’alchermes è un liquore molto utilizzato in pasticceria come bagna alcolica, e proprio in Abruzzo è molto usato per la tradizionale “pizza dolce”, il tipico dolce della domenica. Ovvero un dolce composto da strati di pan di spagna inzuppati nell’alchermes e farciti con uno strato di crema al cioccolato e uno strato di crema pasticcera.
La ricetta di queste pesche è proprio quella tradizionale: farina, zucchero, burro, scorza di limone e latte q.b., le ho poi farcite con crema di nocciole spalmabile e crema pasticcera, decorate con foglioline di ostia.
A tavola con Appetibilis :: Sara Scutti's Pesche d'inverno all'alchermes
Ingredienti per 20 pesche | Tempi di preparazione: 2 ore ca. | Difficoltà media
Ingredienti per la pasta biscotto
500 gr di farina 00
100 gr di burro morbido
175 gr di zucchero semolato
4 cucchiai di latte
Scorza di un limone
1 bustina di lievito vanigliato per dolci
Ingredienti per la farcia
Crema di nocciole spalmabile q.b.
Crema pasticcera q.b.
Ingredienti per la decorazione
Zucchero semolato q.b.
Procedimento – In una ciotola setaciare la farina, aggiungere lo zucchero, la scorza di limone, il burro ammorbidito a cubetti, le uova, e infine il lievito.
Cominciate ad impastare con le mani, aggiungendo se necessario qualche cucchiaio di latte, fino ad ottenere un impasto piuttosto morbido.
Formate delle palline di circa 20 gr di peso e ponetele sulla placca del forno foderata di carta forno. Cuocete le palline nel forno preriscaldato a 180 gradi per circa 15-20 minuti. Sfornate e lasciatele intiepidire.
E’ il momento di farcire – Con un cucchiaino da caffè create un incavo alla base delle sfere svuotandolo leggermente. Riempite due sfere di crema pasticcera o crema di nocciole, e accoppiatele.
Per la decorazione – Con l’aiuto di un colino immergete velocemente le sfere nell’alchermes e passatele nello zucchero semolato, ponetele all’interno di un pirottino e decorate a piacere con delle foglioline di ostia o se preferite con delle foglioline di menta fresca.
⭐ Sara’s Cream Peach Cookies
Alchermes-flavoured “peaches” are a typical Italian traditional peach-shaped pastry. They remind me of my childhood holidays because I used to have them at Christmas, Easter and on Mother’s Day.
They are half globe-shaped cookies stuffed with créme patissiére, hazelnut chocolate cream or jam. The cookies are soaked into Alchermes (i.e. a spices infused scarlet-coloured liqueur) and then covered with sugar. The soaked cookies turn pink and resemble the actual fruit.
The following recipe is the traditional one: wheat flour, sugar, butter, lemon peel and milk. I filled them with spreadable hazelnut chocolate cream and créme patissiére, with leaves of wafer paper for decoration.
Cooking with Appetibilis :: Sara Scutti's Cream 'Peach' Cookies
500 gr wheat flour
100 gr soft butter
175 gr sugar
4 spoonful of milk
1 lemon peel
1 dose of vanilla-flavoured baking powder
Ingredients for stuffing:
Hazelnut chocolate spread as required
Créme patissiére as required
Ingredients for decoration:
Alchermes liqueur as required
Sugar as required
Start with the cookie dough – Sift the flour, add sugar, lemon peel, diced softened butter, eggs and baking powder. Knead the dough, add milk if required, until you get a soft dough. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.
Make 20 gr balls and place them onto a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper. Bake at 180 °C for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
Assemble the peaches – With the help of a tea spoon scoop the cookies and scrape out enough crumbs to make space for cream. Fill up two cookies with créme patissiére o hazelnut chocolate spread and sandwich them together so that the filling comes just to the edge. Here you have a “peach”.
Time to decorate – Put each peach into a strainer and quickly soak it into the Alchermes, then into the sugar; place them into a paper cup and decorate with some wafers or some fresh mint leaves.