Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta

  • 1 pkg unflavored gelatin (1 Tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 2 cups heavy cream (454 g)
  • 1 cup half and half (227 g)
  • ⅓ cup sugar (67g)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract (good quality)
  1. In a very small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand for one minute to be absorbed. It is important not to dump all the gelatin into the water but rather to sprinkle uniformly over the surface. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and in liquid form again.

  2. In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half and sugar just to a boil over medium heat, stirring. Remove pan from heat and and stir in gelatin mixture (it may need to be rewarmed slightly if it has started to harden) and vanilla extract.

  3. Divide mixture into 6 ramekins, cool to room temperature and then chill, covered in saran wrap for at least 4 hours or overnight.

  4. Dip bases of ramekins into hot water bath for about 5 seconds then run a dull knife around the edges to loosen. Invert each ramekin onto a serving plate.

  5. Panna cotta is the perfect blank canvas for your favorite garnishes. Use fresh fruit for a quick dessert or, as in my case, an orange syrup with cacao nibs.

Ginger and Cocoa Nib Cannoli

Watch the full process here

Ginger and Cocoa Nib Cannoli

Chocolate Cannoli with a Kick adapted from Saveur magazine

For the shells:

  • 300 g AP flour
  • 30 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 50 g Marsala
  • 50 g red wine
  • 30 g olive oil
  • 10 g honey
  • 5 g kosher salt
  • canola oil (for frying)

For the filling:

  • 1 lb drained ricotta
  • 56 g powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup candied ginger (finely chopped)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 70 g bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped, divided)
  • 60 g heavy cream
  • 1 egg white (beaten with 1 tsp water)
  • 35 g cocoa nibs
  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and espresso. Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the Marsala, red wine, oil, honey and salt; mix until the liquid is absorbed and a very dry dough forms, about 8 minutes. The dough will be brittle and in pieces. Turn out the dough, kneading briefly to press together. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 5.

  2. Make the filling the day of serving: In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, powdered sugar, ginger, zest, and half the bittersweet chocolate. Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip (optional) and refrigerate.

  3. Start heating 2 inches of canola oil in a deep pan (preferably cast iron). It should reach a temperature of 350°F. Remove and unwrap the cannoli dough. Divide into 3 pieces and keep pieces wrapped while you work on one. Roll as thin as you can with a rolling pin then start passing it through the widest setting on a pasta roller. Fold the strip into thirds, as if folding a letter, and pass it through the machine again. Do this a few times until the dough is smooth. Then pass again on narrower settings until the dough reacher setting 6 on the machine.

  4. Using a 3¾ cookie cutter cut rounds from the dough. Repeat with the other two pieces and set aside all the rounds on a parchment lined cookie sheet until you are finished.

  5. Wrap a dough circle around a cannoli mold and seal the edges with a bit of egg wash . Press edges lightly together. Use tongs to lower the cannoli molds into the hot oil. Fry 2-3 cannoli at a time until they are brown and bubbly — about 2-3 minutes — turning occasionally to make sure they don't burn on one side. Use tongs to remove them and a towel to slide them off the hot molds. Drain on paper towel-lined dish.

  6. Pipe the filling into the cooled shells and dip each end into a mixture of remaining bittersweet chocolate and cocoa nibs. Fill the shells as close to serving time as possible to keep them from getting soggy. Dust with powdered sugar.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Actually if you turn them upside down they would be Hungarian rainbow cookies but since they are deeply rooted in Italian patisserie I will not muddy the waters today. The first time I had these was at a baby shower for a Cuban friend. Her father had sent them from New York . I had never seen them before but I was enchanted by their colors and adorable size. When I asked my friend what they were called she said she didn’t know, just that they came from a New York bakery. Well, it didn’t take much research to uncover the deets (can I still use that word if I am 45?). These are a new favorite in my family and I love that I can give just one piece to each of my children and make them feel they are getting a special cake!

Italian Rainbow Cookies

  • 200 g sugar
  • 8 oz almond paste
  • 340 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 60 g whole milk
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 240 g all purpose flour
  • 6 drops red food gel
  • 6 drops green food gel
  • ½ cup raspberry jam
  • 130 g semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate, chopped (melted)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (optional)
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F and grease three quarter sheet cake pans (9"x13") with baking spray and line with parchment paper. [I had only one quarter sheet pan and one half sheet pan so I created a divider in the half sheet pan using a thick piece of foil covered by parchment paper].

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, almond paste and 113 g of the butter (one stick). Mix until smooth then add the remaining butter and continue to mix until smooth.

  3. Gradually add the egg yolks, followed by the milk and almond extract. Mix until combined. Add the flour and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture in three parts — gently so as not to deflate the meringue. Divide equally between 3 bowls. Add red gel to one bowl and green to another bowl.

  5. Pour batter into prepared pans and use a spatula to gently even out the surface. Bake 12-14 minutes or until set then cool completely.

  6. Turn out red layer onto a cake board or serving platter and spread half of the jam evenly over top. Repeat with white layer then top with green layer. [I found it easier and neater to layer the cakes in my sheet pan].

  7. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and top with another sheet pan or a heavy book. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

  8. Remove the weights and plastic wrap. Spread the melted chocolate over top and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you make a ganache with the heavy cream and butter. This will make a softer chocolate layer that you can easily cut through. To do this: bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes then add butter and gently whisk until smooth.

  9. Once set, trim ¼" off each side of the cake to get even edges. Cut the cake into 1½"x¾"rectangles.

  10. These will keep at room temperature for a week in an airtight container.


I can’t resist a baking challenge and ever since I saw this on GBBO last year I knew I had to devote a weekend to it. (Turned out to be two weekends). Actually when I saw this episode my first thought was “Oh this could be as excruciatingly painful and blissfully rewarding as macarons. Let me at ’em.”

But really, they’re not as painful as macarons. Just very tedious but in a meditative, transcendental sort of way. And, definitely worth the effort.  Recipe and video tutorial below .




How to Make Sfogiatelle