Fig and walnut tart..welcome fall!

Autumn is upon us, and with it the scent of chestnuts, 1.000 recipes with pumpkin, glasses of red wine watching the rain outside the window, buses full of children going to school, the first wool sweaters that will softly embrace us, evenings spent in front of the TV, and of course my 22th Bday :)

I have to admit I love this new season coming..

So I propose to start open the oven and enjoy another ingredient still in between of summer and fall, the fig! This cake for me is amazing because it is very easy to do, not too sweet and sooo good that is perfect for breakfast but also as dessert!

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  • 250 grams of flour
  • 130 grams of butter
  • 80 grams of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • A bit of almond milk
  • A teaspoon of vanilla powder
  • A teaspoon of baking powder
  • A bottle of jam figs (I used an organic jam with no added sugar because I don’t like sweet jams)
  • Walnuts

 Mix together all the dry ingredients, then add the butter, the egg, the milk. Once you have done the dough live it in the fridge for 30 min. Butter a round baking pan and roll out the dough very thin because it will swell with the baking powder. Spread over the jam, if you want you can also add some slices of fresh fig (I didn’t have them) and then, add on the top some chopped walnuts.

 In the oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes…ready!!!

 

Crostata pears and Nutella and happy Father’s Day!

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Today is Father’s Day and although many expats or migrants around the world have their dads away it is always good to prepare a beautiful cake to celebrate them even at a distance. Then of course, we will eat the whole cake by ourselves but what can you do … for dads will make this sacrifice :)

And if you are so good not to finish it all in one day you can hope that there remains a slice when you come back tomorrow or saturday night at 5 am wanting something good to eat..Or it can be perfect as Sunday breakfast!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 jar of Nutella (or chocolate cream)
  • 2 pears Kaiser
  • 1 egg and 2 yolks
  • 300gr flour 00
  • 125gr butter
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon of yeast
  • 100gr of sugar

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Prepare the pastry:
Mix the softened butter with sugar and the eggs. Form a mound of flour mixed with baking powder and pour the mixture of butter and eggs in the center. Knead the dough with your hands until it forms a ball.

Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.

After this time, divide the dough into two parts, one double the other.

Roll out with a rolling pin the biggest part of the dough and put it on a round baking pan previously covered with baking paper. At this point have fun and  spread the pastry with the nutella (or chocolate cream). I would suggest to warm a bit the cream so it will be easier to spread it.

Then, peel and slice the pears and place them in over the chocolate cream.

Now take the smallest part of dough and crumble it with your hands to form an uneven coverage of the whole pie.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 30 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Plumcake

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I know that we let Halloween go unnoticed but you must not think that we have ended up with pumpkin recipes. November is the pumpkin month and we should celebrate it (you will see what we will do for the Thanks Giving day!). So..before the amazing and traditional pumpkin cake (stay tuned to discover the recipe), I have decided to propose another cake, very easy and very comfortable for these raining afternoon!

Ingredients:

  •  200 gr. of flour
  • 150 gr. of sugar
  • 250 gr. of pumpkin puree
  • 120 ml of olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 spoon of natural yogurt
  • nutmeg
  • cinnamon
  • half a teaspoon of salt
  • a packet of baking powder
  • white and dark chocolate (the amount is up to your taste)

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 First of all you should cut the pumpkin in slides (leave the skin on) and then put them into the oven closed by silver paper for around 45 min, till when they will become very soft. A good alternative is to cut the pumpkin in small pieces without skin and then boil them with a bit of water using the microwave. In the meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients (before flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Then, add the yogurt, the olive oil and the eggs). At this point add also the pure of pumpkin that you will do removing the pulp of the pumpkin and smashing it with a fork or with the blender (if the smashed pumpkin is too compact add a little bit of water). Finally, add the chocolate and the spices. Mix everything and then reversed the mixture into a baking dish for plum cake. Oven at 180° for 45 – 50 minutes until when the inside will be dry.

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If you like pumpkin you cannot image how good is it, without counting that the pumpkin is low in calories and very good for health :)  we should profit now that we have it!

Strudel jam and..big jumps

Helly everybody, I am finally back!
Well, if you didn’t feel my absence, I hope you were at least looking forward to try my new recipes..I was surely looking forward to prepare and present this easy but astonishing recipe!

I have some big news:first of all, we left our cozy, lovely and tiny house in Bologna to move to..Bolzano!
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The reason why is the second big news: I found a new job here which looks promising and exciting, so we decided to leave Bologna after almost ten years…
Bolzano is my native town, is a tiny, cozy and beautiful city up in the North of Italy, surrounded by the Alps, specifically Dolomites. Half of the population here talks Italian, and the other half is German speaking. Everything here is neat and organized, which is an aspect that probably set the town more like an Austrian city, rather than an Italian one. By the way, one of the typical products from here are apples, besides wine and other wonderful culinary products.
Today, in Bolzano, it was definitely raining cats and dogs, that’s why I decided to propose you a delicious way to store this wonderful fruit now, when it is at its best. I called it “strudel” jam because the flavour is very similar to the famous pie from South Tyrol (ok, recipe soon..)

INGREDIENTS:

2kg apples (typical from Bolzano are Golden Delicius)
a bit of water if needed
juice of one lemon
some tablespoons of sugar (Golden is an already sweet apple and do not require extra sugar)
1 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
a fistful of raisins
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Put clean jars and new lids in a saucepan with water and boil at least 10 minutes to sterilize them. Leave them into the pan until water is cold again, then let dry and start preparing the jam.
Peel and finely dice the apples and sprinkle with lemon juice.
In a high-sided saucepan combine apples with lemon and sugar and stir well, paying attention that the apples don’t adhere to the pan. Just in case add a glass of water and cook slowly. Cook the jam for around 60 minutes adding a bit of water if needed. By cooking it for so long and thanks to the natural property of apples, you do not need to add jelling agents, because apples naturally contains pectin.
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Remove from heat, add cinnamon, pine nuts and raisins and fill the jars to within 1cm to the top. Close with lids, after cleaning rims from the jam. Put the jars upside down thus creating a natural vacuum and leave it until cool.
To appreciate the flavour at its best, you should leave the jars a couple of months in a cool and dark place, but in our house it never lasted that time… ;)
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You can use it to fill a pie, you can taste it with biscuits and tea, but most of the friend who received the jars as a Christmas present told me, they used to gobbled up without anything, just filling the spoon :)

…and to fight a heavy sky, a 24h of pouring rain and blue mood: try the jam while you listen to Big Jumps -Emiliana Torrini (“Me and Armini” album released in 2008).

oh..my new job won’t start until November, that’s why I’ll leave soon for my last week of holiday as an unemployed..where? guess..it’s not difficult, it’s my second home by now…and I’ll come back with funny anectodes and new regional recipes.

Enjoy!
Claudia

Tea time & blueberries

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5.00 pm. I’m alone in my cozy shelter up on the roof, and I need something warm and sweet (together with cuddles, if possible!). If your partner does not suppose to come back before 8.00 pm, and clearly there would be a lack of cuddles in the meantime, you definitely have to bake something sweet that possibly matches with your afternoon tea. I had very few things in my fridge, and I was about to cry because my inspiration was gone with the missing ingredients. Then, I saw the light. Milk, a couple of eggs, flour, cane sugar and… blueberries. The perfect combination for a genuine, simple cake, like those that my lovely and wise granny uses to prepare when I’m home with her. Your rainy afternoon will become suddenly colorful and tasty, after your almond scented tea and a slice of blueberry cake. Follow me with the procedure!

Ingredients

  • 200 gr flour
  • 80 gr cane sugar
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1/2 bag of baking powder
  • 200 gr blueberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter

(if you have it, some cinnamon powder would be a great ingredient to add!)

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Mix all the ingredients together (before mix the dry ingredients and then add the other things). Put the result mixture into a plumcake mold previously covered with a baking paper and then cook the cake at 180° for around 40 minutes.

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Smells of late summer..

I know, we are in October. This means fall, grey sky, falling leaves, pumpkin, chestnuts.. Do not worry, in few days I will start stressing you with “fall recipes” but for today let me still taste the smell of summer. Outside is not yet very cold and in the markets we can still find plums and peaches that bring back our memory to the season just ended. Moreover, in September I was a very good and diligent girl making few jars of plum jam that I was very curious to taste. Thus, before starting with pumpkins, chestnuts, chicory, khaki, etc., today I decided to make you enjoy again a little  bit of summer making a cake (I will need a lot of sugar this month to cope the arrival of my thirty years), a crostata, that smells of plums and lemon!

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The crostata is a typical Italian cake, the first one you learn to make with your mom, very easy, authentic, simple and incredibly good! For me, this cake means home and this is way I like to make it imperfect and craft like a did when I was a child (as you can see from the pictures :) )

Ingredients:

  • 1 jars of plum jam
  • 2 tea spoons of grated ginger
  • 300g flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 2 yolks
  • the grated rind of 1 lemon

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You start making the dough: Mix together flour, sugar and the grated rind of lemon (the dry ingredients). Then, add the eggs and the butter at room temperature. Mix everything till all the ingredients will become an elastic and compact ball. Leave the dough covered by a film in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out 2/3 of it on a baking paper ( it should be 3-4 mm of thickness) and put it into a baking tin. At this point cover evenly the dough with the plum jam previously mixed with the ginger. With the remaining 1/3 of the dough create few strips to be placed crosswise on the surface of the cake in order to create a grid.

The cake must cook in a preheated oven at 180° for 40/45 minutes.

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I wish you all a good Sunday!

 

A Shot of Energy? Belgian Cheesecake!

Wednesday..A nice day, since it is in the middle of the week. You start to see the week end but you also know that there are other 2 loooong days before the relax. How to deal with this long wait? A big slice of a very good cake is always the right solution!

In this case I decided to try a new version of the cheesecake: the Belgian one, with speculoos for the base and a layer of Belgian dark chocolate on the top.

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Trust me: the smile on your face you will come up naturally.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of speculoos
  • a small spoon of cocoa powder
  • 250g of ricotta
  • 60g of Philadelphia
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 spoons of sugar
  • 80g of dark Belgian chocolate
  • a bit of butter to add to the cookies for preparing the base of the cake

We start preparing the base: blend and crush the cookies, then, add the butter and the spoon of cocoa powder. Amalgamate all and roll out the dough into a cake tin lined with baking paper. When the base is done put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and in the meanwhile prepare the cream. Mix the 2 yolks with the sugar, then add the ricotta and the Philadelphia and mix everything. At this point add the 2 whipped eggs whites and amalgamate all together. Now you pull out of the fridge the cookies’ base and you cover it with the cream cheese. Put in the oven for 40 minutes at 180°. When the cheese cream will be a bit solid the cake will be ready so you should pull it out of  the oven and cover it with the chocolate cream made just with the dark chocolate melted with a bit of water.

Leave the cake in the fridge for at least 3 hours till it becomes cold, then enjoy!

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P.S. I apologize for the quality of the pictures s but I took them with my mobile phone..:)

Why we need a man if we have the cookies?

I love cookies. First of all they are very simple to made, then, they can last longer if stored in the right way. They are perfect for a snack or an easy breakfast but, depending by the recipe, they can also be an elegant dessert for a dinner with friends. They can keep you company in front of the tv watching a nice movie, they can come with you everywhere, they are good for all the seasons and you can eat them without feeling guilty since they are small and thin :) Moreover, you are never tired of them becuase you can eat them in sooo many ways: soaked in latte, coffee or tea, covered by chocolate or jam, made with dried fruit or spices, butter or olive oil..they are the fantasy realm, Not to mention all the forms that you can give to them. And, finally, the nicest thing is that, if they come out with some mistakes..it is enough just to eat them and the mistake will disappear! So…Why we need a man when we have the cookies?! :)

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Now, do you remember those nice molds for cookies that I had bought together with some nice jam and the speculos spices from Dille&Camille few months ago? (http://youritaliancookmates.altervista.org/dillekamille-un-angolo-di-paradiso/) Finally I decided to use them!

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Ingredients:  

  • 250g of flour
  • 125g butter
  • 1 egg
  • a bit of salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons (as much as you like) of speculos spices (you can do it also just with cinnamon or other spices you like!)
  • apple and cinnamon jam q.b.

MIx all the ingredients together (except the jam) in order to create the pastry that you will leave in the fridge for 30 min. wrapped in a film. After that, you should roll out the dough with the rolling pin to obtain a thickness of about 3-4 mm.

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 Have fun to cut out and shape the cookies as you like the most. Remember that, for those “bulls-eye” with jam the best idea is to cut circles with glasses, and, for half of these, you have to make an extra hole in the center with a smaller glass. The donut-shaped cookies will be used as a cover of the other circles-shaped cookies covered with jam!

At this point put the cookies into the oven, 180°, for around 20 min.

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When they are ready, leave to cool the ones you want to eat as they are. Instead, for the ones with the jam, you should take the circles-shaped cookies still hot, spread them with the jam and cover them with the donut-shaped cookies. Then, leave them to cool to room temperature!

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I wish to all of you a good Sunday and a good relax!

Chocolate Cookies for the weekend

Hello everybody!

Here in Bologna summer has already gone, and after a couple of weeks of 30-35°C, we got back to November rains. With this horrible weather (cold, wind, storms and rain) I propose you a recipe that you will definitely appreciate, while drinking your tea on the couch (do not forget the blanket).

I tried this recipe long time ago in Canada, but now I propose you my personal and modified one.

I am talking about chocolate cookies, that all Americans, Canadians and people from all over the world love (watch out, they could cause addiction ;) ).

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I hope that my friend Gina (born in the States but with Italian origins, blood and smile) to whom is dedicated this post, will approve my version.

And I hope that all of you try it ,and let me know if you liked it.

CHOCOLATE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS (around 40 cookies):

120 gr. BUTTER

100 gr. BROWN BUTTER

2 tablespoons of HONEY

1 EGG

220 gr. WHEAT FLOUR

½ teaspoon SALT

1 teaspoon VANILLA BAKING POWDER

120 gr. CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Soften butter in the microwave for less than a minute, ten put it in a bowl and beat it with a whisk, while adding brown sugar. Without stopping beating, add one egg and a couple of tablespoons of honey. Stir flower with salt and baking powder and sift it in the bowl.

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Add chocolate chips and stir gently. While preheating the oven to 180°C, put the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes (otherwise the cookies will spread out too much with the heat of the oven). Drop cookies by the tablespoon onto a baking pun covered with wax paper.

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Bake for 8-10 mins (depends on the oven), then allow the cookies to rest and cool completely befor transferring it in your favorite biscuits box.

Happy weekend and take advantage from bad weather to bake these wonderful cookies!

Claudia

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Gluten Free Banana Bread (with pecans nuts and chocolate!)

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I have discovered the rice flour only recently, thanks to a gluten intolerant friend who uses it very often and I have to say it ‘a revelation! I’ve always only used it for breading and fried ’cause since the rice flour absorbs very little oil, the fried food remains light, dry and crisp making it more digestible and tasty (for example it is perfect for the Japanese tempura). However, recently I’m re-evaluating this flour for many other uses!

The rice flour has a low protein content (approximately 7%) and a low attitude to baking but, on the other hand, it is suitable for the production of pastry and cookies, for which it is not necessary structuring the grating determined by the gluten. We can recommend the rice flour for the preparation of dumplings “unbreakable” or biscuits and sablés.

I actually tried to use it for a gluten free banana bread!

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Ingredients: 

  • 2 or 3 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 90 g melted butter
  • 120 g sugar (if you prefer you can even use the honey)
  • 2 eggs
  • a bit of cinnamon
  • 1 bag baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 180 g rice flour
  • 2 or 3 spoons of milk or yogurt or coconut milk if you like it!!
  • 70 g nuts
  • dark chocolate flakes (as much as you want!)

Preheat the oven 180°. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar, the eggs, and the cinnamon. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, and finally nuts and chocolate. When everything is well mixed put everything in a loaf pan and bake for 45 min.

Try to dip a toothpick in the dough, when it comes out clean it means that the cake  is ready. Bring it out and, when it is still hot, add above a little bit of ground hazelnuts and chocolate chips! served warm…

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Easy…fast..perfect for a healthy breakfast or snack :)

Best wishes to all mothers!

To celebrate as it should be any kind of party, a cake is a must. Then, when I think of my mother I think of a very specific cake: LA CROSTATA. A typical Italian cake, unknown abroad, quick and easy to praparare and of course delicious. The base of this cake is made with the so called “pasta frolla”, a set of sugar, eggs, butter and flour, thus, it is very funny also for the children to help their mothers in preparing this cake kneading and mixing all the ingredients with their hands! Then, you can stuff it with many diferent things following your personal taste: chocolate, fruit, jam, custard, etc.

The smell of this cake coming from the oven is something that remember me, probably more than anything else, my home and my family so, despite the fact that today I am in Brussels, far away from all of them, I decide to prepare the crostata anyway. Follow me for discovering the secrets of this amazing italian recipe..

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I decided to do a very particular and a bit more elaborated version: chocolate creme and caramelized pears. I saw this recipe on a web site (http://www.donnamoderna.com/cucina/scuola-cucina/crostata-pere-cioccolato/foto-1#title ) and I decided I should try it.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 300 grams of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 grams of sugar
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon of baking

For the filling:

  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • 100 g of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 120 g of sugar
  • 2 glasses of white wine abundant
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • 2 medium-sized pears not too ripe

Place the flour in a bowl, put in the middle sugar, diced butter, 2 eggs, grated rind of a lemon and a teaspoon of baking powder. Mix the ingredients quickly working the dough with your fingertips to form a firm and elastic dough and with it form a ball. Wrap the dough ball of pastry in a plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least half an hour. Then roll out the pastry just removed from the fridge with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 4 mm. Lining the pan with parchment paper wet and squeezed over which you will put the dough. Teases out the dough with a fork, cover it with parchment paper or aluminum and fill it with dried beans or with any wheel so that the dough will not growth. Cook it in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, then let it cool.

Meanwhile, peel the pears, cut them into wedges, remove the core and spray them with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil the wine with the vanilla pod engraved along its length, the cinnamon and 40 g of sugar. Immerse the slices of pear and cook them for about 5 minutes. After that, drips off the pears and cut them into slices. Meanwhile cook the liquid over low heat for other 10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy, then turn of the fire, immerse again the pears into the syrup and leave them there till they become cold.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler with shredded butter. Meanwhile, mounts, always in a double boiler, eggs and egg yolk with the remaining sugar (80 g), until frothy, like eggnog. Then, remove it from the heat and incorporates the melted chocolate, stirring constantly with a whisk.

When the pastry is cold and you have removed the aluminum or waxed paper with the legumes fill it with the chocolate cream and the slices of pear, making them slightly into the chocolate cream.
Finally, bake the cake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, until the cream is thick. Remove from the oven and when it is cold brush it with the where you previously have cooked the pears.

The day after it is even better!!

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LA SACHER TORTE CON UN TOCCO DI SICILIA..

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La Sacher Torte è un dolce che richiede tempo e di sicuro non è una di quelle torte che si fanno spesso però…è senza dubbio una torta che, se riesce, da grandi soddisfazioni!! Noi abbiamo provato a farla dandoci un tocco di italianità..che è poi quello che caratterizza tutte le nostre ricette! La ricetta per la base è quella classica:

  • 125g di burro
  • 125g cioccolato fondente
  • 125g di farina 00
  • 125g di zucchero
  • 6 uova
  • un pizzico di sale

Per prima cosa sciogliete il cioccolato fondente (noi siamo andate di microonde, molto più pratico e veloce rispetto al classico bagnomaria ma voi fate come preferite) e una volta sciolto lasciatelo intiepidire da una parte. Iniziate a montare il burro con lo zucchero fino ad ottenere un composto soffice. A questo punto separate i tuorli dagli albumi e unite i rossi al composto uno per volta. Riprendete il cioccolato che avete sciolto a bagnomaria in precedenza e unitelo con la farina al composto. A questo punto montate gli albume a neve ben ferma con un pizzico di sale (se gli albumi sono ben freddi si monteranno più facilmente!), unite i due composti e..voilà!  In forno 180° per 45 min circa (controllate sempre con uno stuzzicadente o con un coltello per vedere quando l’interno è asciutto. Mi raccomando, la torta deve rimanere soffice!)

Una volta raffreddata, tagliate la torta in due e farcitela invece che con la classica marmellata di albicocche, con una marmellata di arance amare bio fatta in casa (Grazie mamma della silvia c.!). Credeteci..avrà un sapore un po’ meno dolce ma straordinariamente delicato! buonissimo..

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A questo punto manca solo la copertura:

  • 55gr burro
  • 200g cioccolato fondente
  • 100gr zucchero a velo
  • 100ml di acqua
  • 5 cucchiaini di confettura di arance.

Sciogliete il cioccolato insieme al burro. In un pentolino portate ad ebollizione l’acqua con lo zucchero. Togliete il pentolino dal fuoco e versateci dentro il cioccolato con il burro fuso. Portate nuovamente il tutto ad ebollizione, togliete il tutto dal fuoco e sbattete il composto con una frusta per renderlo omogeneo. Ora lasciatelo raffreddare un po’ e poi divertitevi a spalmare la vostra torta! Non vi preoccupate se il cioccolato cadrà da tutte le parti poi si fa sempre in tempo a pulire il piatto:)

Per dare l’ultimo tocco italiano caramellate delle ruote di arancia bio tagliate molto sottili, il caramello deve essere piuttosto liquido e potete aromatizzarlo con cannella e chiodi di garofano! Lasciate raffreddare le arance nello sciroppo e poi appoggiatele delicatamente alla torta!! Provate assieme torta e arance..so che non lo abbiamo inventato noi questo abbinamento ma..è straordinario!

Buon appetito..