Posts Tagged 'italian'

One Delightful Dinner Party, A Wild Chow How To

Once I was invited to a dinner party by my friend Lisa. It was a delightful amalgamation of friends, strangers and Italian food. It felt like family.

Five Steps to a Family Dinner Party

Step One: Invite a bunch of people to come over to your house, neighbors, friends, strangers. Chat.

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Step Two: Get some plates. Matching is nice, but any will do. Clean is nice too.

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Step Three: Bake some bread. Slice it, or don’t.

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Step 4: Make a food assembly line. Encourage large portions. Greens, pasta, bread = no fail.

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Step Five: Slice up a big dessert. Encourage large portions.

Like you didn’t already know this. But seriously, it was  a really nice dinner, full of easy company. Maybe I would feel different if I was the one hosting




Pipe Dream #193: To Be Invited, Not Invited – Gluten Free Chocolate Pecan Florentines

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I have a delicious treat in the form of a delightful dinner party to share with you this week, wherein I will wax on about being invited as opposed to being “invited” (apologies in advance). But before I do, I would like to share my only contribution to said dinner party, as the other items on the menu will clearly outshine my miniscule offering.

I do not feel bad about my miniscule offerings at all. Trust me, you will understand when you know. This dinner party. Heavens.

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Spoiler alert: Don’t read this next unless you want to know what I ate for dinner the other week, which I will also tell you later this week. What’s that? You don’t care what I ate for dinner the other week? You should care. Because I ate


Let that sink in.

Ok. I know.

And what is the only worthwhile accompaniment to toasted marshmallow besides everything? That’s correct, Senator. Chocolate.

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I wanted to make something gluten-free, because there were some GF attendees, and these florentines were the perfect recipe. Elegant, interesting, and made with gluten-free flour.

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Traditional Italian florentines are made with almonds and are sandwiched together with tempered dark chocolate. The cookie batter flattens out significantly and bubbles up, creating a crunchy, buttery shell. This recipe substituted the almonds for pecans (which weren’t overpowering by any means, so if you don’t like pecans, no big), and instead of making cookie sandwiches, I opted to shape them into little serving bowls for the ice cream, kind of the same way you might shape brandy snaps.

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This was Attempt #1 at shaping the florentines. I let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheets and then wrapped them around the metal handle of my whisk, pinching the ends to seal. They just slide right off like magic! I might have left them on a bit longer, though. As you can see, they are a little deformed.

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Attempt #2 was more successful. I flipped little mise en place bowls, and draped individual cookies over them, pressing down the sides to create little cups for the ice cream.Next time, I would drape the cookies over on their other side, so the pretty, bubbly side to the cookies would be more visible when they are flipped upright.


This is an easy way to add some class to your next ice cream sundae party. You should have one of those. It would be impossible to fail, and it’s practically summer right now.

Don’t mind me,


Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Florentines

Adapted from gluten freek

1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob’s)

2 handfuls pecans, finely ground in a food processor (or 3/4 cup pecan flour)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons milk

chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine the flour, pecans and cocoa in a small bowl, mixing well to get as many clumps out as possible. I found that my pecans were a little sticky.

Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and milk in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour mix well so all the clumps are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Drop by the teaspoonful onto the baking sheets leaving two to three inches between each cookie to allow for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, set out little mise en place dishes or other little bowls upside down.

Remove the sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool for a couple minutes. When the cookies are cool enough that you can lift them without them stretching, drape each cookie over the little dishes you have set out and press down the edges, creating little bowls out of the cookies. Alternately, you can wrap each cookie around the end of a wire whisk, sliding them off to make a cannoli-like shell.

Let the cookies cool, then store in an airtight container between layers of parchment.

Pipe Dream #188: To Appreciate Only – Cinnamon Nutella Biscotti




recognize the full worth of

be grateful for (something)

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There are a few things in life that I have learned to appreciate. For example, I didn’t used to appreciate dressing up for church. Stuffing my feet into those itchy, lacy socks and brushing out my baby snarls? No thanks. Now, it’s fun to have an excuse to dress up on the weekend.

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I didn’t appreciate biscotti before I was addicted to coffee. They are the perfect combo. This isn’t to say that I would take some dried-out crackle cookie over a chewy gooey wonder like this. Or this. Those are more in the adore and cherish category.  Most days, I just appreciate biscotti.

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I recognize the full worth of infusing a chocolate hazelnut cinnamon creation with espresso and then enjoying the contrasting textural change from crackly to melty-in-your-mouth-y that accompany such an event.

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I hope you recognize this too, and make these biscotti immeds. Let me know if you decide to change up the flavors. I think orange zest would be amazing with this too.

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Cinnamon Nutella Biscotti

Adapted from

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
heaping 1/2 cup Nutella
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon cinnamon
optional: more chocolate and coconut flakes for decoration
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
In the electric bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until frothy. Add the sugar and continue beating on high for 2 minutes. Stir in the Nutella on low speed, then add the flour mixture to egg mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and hazelnuts, if using.Divide the dough into 2 logs with well floured hands and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Press logs into rectangles approximately 1/2 inch thick. The dough will be pretty wet as you do this, so just plop it on and arrange as best you can.Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes and remove from oven, turning the heat down to 300°F.Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the slices on their sides on the baking sheet and return to the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then turn the slices over and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, checking for doneness at 7 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. If desired, melt some chocolate and drizzle it over the cooled biscotti. Alternately, you can dip the ends of the cookies in melted chocolate and then dip in coconut flakes. Store in an airtight container.

Pipe Dream #122: To Doubly Appreciate Suggestion – Orange, Pine Nut And Dark Chocolate Biscotti

I made these as present for my dad. He is one of the only people in my life that will give me creative opinions on what I should bake beyond “I don’t know…something really tasty?” Which is one of the reasons that a lot of the posts on this site are dedicated to him. And besides, he is the only person in the house capable of managing the caloric intake of baked goods on a regular basis.

By the way, thanks to all of you in the comments section who give me pointers and recipe ideas and salutations. You are all really sweet, and you pretty much make my day err day. You should probably start giving me a little more “constructive” criticism. Keeps me humble. :]

Anyway, my dad told me that he had really been craving biscotti. I don’t really like biscotti as a rule (heaven knows I love an underbaked cookie), so I wasn’t too keen, but I decided to give it a shot. These are slightly adapted from a “traditional” Italian biscotti recipe I found on We can’t really be sure that this is the exact recipe Nonni uses, but it does incorporate some really classic Italian flavors. The dark chocolate was just for karma’s sake.

Biscotti are twice-baked cookies, meaning, uh, you have to bake them twice. Once as a cookie-loaf and once after you’ve cut them into strips. There are some interesting rules about the cooling process once the loaves come out of the oven, but I forget the reasoning behind them so just follow the recipe closely. It was good to me, and it will probably be good to you. Let me know in the comments if it is not.

Gittin’ me a coffee QUICK,


Orange, Pine Nut and Dark Chocolate Biscotti

Adapted from allrecipes

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 toasted almond pieces (or pine nuts, like I used)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and zest. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in almonds.

Divide dough into two pieces. Form into long flat loaves about 1/2 inch tall and 12 inches long. Place the loaves 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turning over once. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Place chocolate chips into a small, microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until smooth. Use a spatula to spread chocolate onto one side of each cookie. Let stand at room temperature until set. Store biscotti at room temperature in an airtight container.

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