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One of the cookbook’s sitting on my shelf is ‘Southern Italian Desserts’ by Rosetta Constantino.  I bought the book in the midst of moving so I never really had too much time to work with it.  Flipping through the pages, however, it’s exactly what I wanted it to be!  The recipes are authentically Italian, and unlike most American baked goods.  I was excited to try some new things… 

One of the recipes in this book is called ‘Africano.’  It’s a chocolate hazelnut cake roll.  (Umm, OKAY).  You make a homemade chocolate hazelnut paste (move over Nutella!) and wrap a thin layer of sponge around it.  After it’s set, you dip it in chocolate, and then dip it in white chocolate and chopped pistachios. Hazelnut?  Pistachio?  I reeeeeeally want to go to Italy!!  Actually my big goal is to take Ruby on a tour of Europe when she’s old enough to appreciate it.  I can’t wait!!!

One of the reasons I love this cookbook is because she groups her recipes by Italian region.  This dessert is native to Sicily and the author got to try an Africano while visiting Palermo, her husband’s hometown.  I had just binge-watched a ton of Food Network’s Baking Championship so I couldn’t help but say-a everything-a like-a I was channeling-ga my eener Damiano Carrara!  Ha!  

Did you know his bake shop, ‘Carrara Pastries’ is in Moorpark, CA.  That’s only two hours away… And THAT IS HAPPENING.  🙂

These were a little tricky to roll but the components themselves are very simple to make.  The rolling the cake up and the dunking in chocolate was the biggest challenge– BUT!  So worth it for a unique dessert I’d never had before.  

Below is a photo of the half sheet thin sponge I baked.  You divide it into four sections and spread the hazelnut paste all over it.  Then you roll the cake up away from you (toward the top of the photo) so you have four long logs.  You cut each log into three parts so you will eventually end up with 12 cake rolls. 

 

Next time I might skip the cake part completely and just eat a bowl of hazelnut paste sprinkled with pistachios.  But you do you…  😉

You can check out the book below!  Happy Wednesday!  xoxo

 

 

 

 

Africano
Yields 12
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Roll
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Ingredients
  1. HAZELNUT PASTE
  2. 1 1/2 c. skinned hazelnuts
  3. About 1 T. safflower or neutral-tasting vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
  4. FILLING
  5. 9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (40-55% cacao)
  6. 1 cup (240g) hazelnut paste (above)
  7. 1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
CAKE
  1. 3 large eggs
  2. 3 T. sugar
  3. 2 tsp mild-flavored honey
  4. 1/2 c. cake flour (50 grams)
COATING
  1. 16 ounces (454 g) dark chocolate (55-60% cacao)
  2. 3 T. safflower or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil, divided
  3. 6 ounces (170g) white chocolate
  4. 1/2 cup (75g) finely chopped raw pistachios
Instructions
  1. TO MAKE HAZELNUT PASTE
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Toast nuts for 20-22 minutes until very dark and almost smoking.
  4. Pour oil into food processor along with roasted hazelnuts. Process until a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl and blade. Add a bit more oil if needed to get paste going.
TO MAKE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FILLING
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, just until the chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the hazelnut paste until evenly combined. Sift in powdered sugar. Let stand until it is thick and spreadable.
TO MAKE THE CAKE
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line a half sheet tray with parchment, butter and flour parchment. (You don't want to skip this step!)
  3. Beat the eggs, sugar, honey in a stand mixture with whisk attachment for 15 minutes, beginning at medium speed and increasing to high after ingredients are blended.
  4. Sift the flour over the top, one-third of flour at a time, gently folding in until completely incorporated without deflating mixture.
  5. Use a small spatula to spread the cake out over the half sheet. It will be very thin! Bake 8-10 minutes until just lightly golden. Lift out the cake on its parchment paper and transfer to a flat surface with long side facing you. Trim away crust edges of cake and then cut into four equal sections about 4 inches wide. (see photo in blog)
  6. While the cake is slightly warm and pliable, divide the filling evenly among the four pieces and spread over the top like peanut butter. With the long side facing you, roll one filled cake away from you into a long roll. Roll remaining three pieces.
  7. Transfer the rolls, seam side down, to a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15+ minutes to firm the filling. Trim the ends of the rolls to neaten them and cut each roll into three equal segments. Lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down.
TO MAKE THE COATING
  1. Melt the dark chocolate with 2 T. of oil in a double boiler, just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip each roll into the melted chocolate with a fork, shake off excess and put down on parchment. Coat all of the rolls and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Melt the white chocolate with remaining 1 T. of oil in a double boiler. Put the pistachios in a small bowl. Dip each roll into the white chocolate and 'stamp' the ends into the pistachios. Refrigerate 15-30 minutes to set. Best served cool but not cold.
  3. **Refrigerate in a single layer airtight container for up to one week.
Adapted from Southern Italian Desserts
Adapted from Southern Italian Desserts
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who has 12,485 cookbooks?  *raises hand*  THIS GIRL. 

Who uses them?  *crickets*

Oy to the vey, I’m so bad!!  I have a ton of cookbooks and while I find a lot of inspiration in them, I rarely crack one open to try a new recipe.  I go to the cracked out, ratings ridden internets.  Yack!  Where’s the charm?!  The romance?! What happened to those books you found in the days of yore? 

A dusty old book you’d find at a flea market or garage sale… and a promise to yourself to start cooking authentic Chinese cuisine.  (Ha! The book doesn’t have pictures, who are we kidding). 

Or the cookbooks your grandmother gave you… Mine never did but here’s hoping you have romantic stories of talking baked goods with grandma.  Mine watched a lot of golf and Wheel of Fortune.  “Bogey, bogey, par, par, son…”  is all I can say about that. 

And then what about those special treat brand new cookbooks with the hardcovers you purchased just for you?  Like Liz buying a lace teddy just for her in Eat, Pray, Love… you bought this cookbook in some kind of intimate act that no one needed to know about.  You just know that it fulfills YOU.  Those ones are my favorite.  And for the love of God, I’ve got millions!

So here’s my new goal, friends.  To share some recipes out of these amazing cookbooks in hopes that A) in 460 years, I’ll get some of the bang back from my buck- ha!  and B) that I will have learned something new and inspired myself to try new flavors, skill-sets or techniques when developing recipes or C) to just find some more winners for the home collection!

So for this blog, I made some Hazelnut Pistachio Slices out of ‘Payard Cookies,’ by Francois Payard with Anne E. McBride.  I chose this recipe because I had pistachios on hand which never happens and I LOOOOVE pistachios!!! (And hazelnuts?  I see you!!) Also because I thoroughly enjoy little ‘dipper’ cookies.

They’re not only small and cute but ‘dipper cookies’ are a perfect little bite with coffee or tea.  They usually have a nice shelf life which I appreciate so you have something to serve when you have guests or when ‘neighbors call.’  (I’m not sure who has neighbors that ‘call’ anymore but I wish we still lived in that time…oh, the poundcakes and southern accent I would have on hand…)

The great thing about this recipe is that they make about a 100 small cookies, which is awesome!  I thought they would be like buttery shortbread but instead they are more like a nutty biscotti.  I’m cool with this because a good ‘dipper’ has to hold up to some moisture!  I chose to dip mine in bittersweet chocolate because they look even more adorable and I love chocolate dipped anything.  Yay!

Then I tried to find some good light in this incredibly dark house we rent- ha!  I find the washer works best.  Ya gotta do what you gotta do… 😉

 

Anyway, give this recipe a try and be sure to share it with your friends!  And if you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to the blog and follow the fun over on instagram:  @mandicrocker and @mandicrockersweets.  Happy Baking, neighbors!

 

Hazelnut Pistachio Slices
Yields 100
A crunchy almost biscotti-like sliced cookie filled with pistachios and hazelnuts. The perfect 'dipper' for coffee or tea!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c. minus 2 T flour (250 grams)
  2. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 4 1/2 T butter, room temp (65 grams)
  5. 3/4 c. light brown sugar (150 grams)
  6. 3 T water
  7. 2/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped (90 grams)
  8. 1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped (30 grams)
  9. grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  10. 1 c. bittersweet or milk chocolate chips, melted for dipping (optional)
  11. 1/4 c. ground nuts for decorating (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar and water, whisking until everything is melted and slightly hot.
  3. Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients
  4. Stir in nuts and zest, mixing completely. Let cool to room temp.
  5. Roll the dough out into a 1 inch thick square. Height and width should be about 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours (or preferably overnight)
  6. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  7. Take out dough and cut into one inch strips.
  8. Cut each strip into 20 slices. (They will be small and fairly thin).
  9. Pop them into the freezer (if you can) for another 15 minutes to firm up again.
  10. Bake for about ten minutes, or until bottoms turn a light brown.
  11. Let cool completely and you can keep them in air tight container for two weeks.
  12. **If you want to dip in chocolate, microwave chips in 30 second intervals in a small microwave safe bowl until smooth. Dip at a horizontal, brush remainder of chocolate of the side of the cookie and place on parchment paper. Sprinkle with ground nuts. Allow to set completely.
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/
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