Desserts

Desserts

By
Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi
Contains
11 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781784881191
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

‘There is a dolce (dessert) for every month of the year,’ our chef friend Antonella told me. From the spicy panforte from Siena (see Antonella’s recipe), traditionally eaten at Christmas, to the stunning schiacciata cakes in every Florentine cake shop window in the run-up to Carnevale in February, the summer combinations of fresh fruits known as macedonia to the pan con santi, ‘bread for the saints’, made for Halloween, there is always a cake on offer to cheer the soul.

Sugar or chocolate was a rare treat when Giancarlo was growing up and desserts were generally made for a festival or, if you were lucky, each Sunday. Giancarlo remembers that when his family fired up the outside oven to cook bread once a fortnight, his mother would make a cake to take advantage of the hot coals.

Fresh seasonal fruits such as an apples, grapes, berries, cherries or bright orange persimmons are generally served at the end of a meal. Cheese is eaten at the beginning and instead of dessert (see our ideas for cheese). Figs and melons are also served at the beginning of a meal with salty prosciutto.

Ice cream and semifreddo are not generally made at home. Instead, the Tuscans prefer to dress up and take their evening walk, the passeggiata, which invariably ends at a bar or local ice cream shop – the gelateria. Simple sponge cakes and plain biscuits are designed for dunking and served with bitter espresso or the sweet wine Vin Santo. Torrone, the white nougat studded with nuts, and cantuccini are available in every patisserie and often given as presents when dining out. There are flamboyant desserts such as zuppa Inglese, inspired by English trifle and made with the bright pink Alchermes liqueur, or zuccotto made in a mould with ricotta, chocolate and sponge. This chapter features our favourite desserts, which we believe fit into a modern kitchen, don’t take hours to make or require specialist equipment.

Fruit salads

In Italy, a salad made from a combination of fresh fruits has been known as a macedonia since the 18th century. No one seems to know exactly why, but it could be something to do with Alexander the Great’s Macedonian Empire being made up from diverse cultures. Here are a few of our favourite combinations that are so easy, yet taste more than the sum of their parts.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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