Welcome to the very first Virtual Potluck. What is VP? It's a concept that a group of us food bloggers developed; where we'll occasionally work together to post about a specific theme. Generating a true potluck of posts on said topic. We'll be talking about it on Facebook, Twitter and each of our blogs. There's a total of 12 of us and we've all got different tastes, focuses and talents. We hope to provide you with interesting content about cool products, recipes, and all things food related. I suggest you visit all of the blogs during these events...as each one of us will be bringing different things to the table.
So let's get this potluck started. Our first VP is sponsored by Abrams publishing and being hosted by Donna at Cookistry. There are 8 of us participating in this event. What does this mean for you? 8 reviews, about 8 different cookbooks, possibly 8 new recipes and most importantly 8 chances to win. That's right each of us will be giving away a copy of the cookbook we review; so be sure to check Donna's blog for links to all the other reviews.
If I had to pick one thing to specialize in it would be desserts...Italian desserts to be more precise. So it's only natural that I chose to review Dolce: Italy's Sweets by Francine Segan. This beautiful cookbook is filled with both classic and contemporary desserts for all skill levels. With a gift for making each recipe come to life, Segan shares cherished stories from Italian grandmothers, young and hip foodies, famous pastry chefs, bakery owners and food writers.
Recipes include favorites such as cannoli, and biscotti to the more specialty items like Sicilian watermelon pudding and a Tuscan sweet spinach pie. With so many fabulous recipes in one book I had a hard time deciding which to try first.
I decided on the Ricotta Pear Cake. Although, very time consuming and labor intensive this is probably my new favorite dessert. Two moist layers of hazelnut cake surround a fluffy ricotta and pear custard that keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for up to five days...but trust me it won't last that long.
Ricotta Pear Cake
For the Cake
2 cups finely ground hazelnuts (toasted)
6 Tbs 00 flour
2/3 cup sugar
7 Tbs butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and lightly flour two 9 1/2 inch springform pans.
Grind the hazelnuts and flour in a mini food processor until very fine. In a large bowl using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs and sugar and beat on high speed for 15 minutes, until the mixture has quadrupled in volume. Gently fold in the hazelnuts and flour with a spatula until just combined. then add in the butter. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until firm to the touch. Set aside.
For the Pears
2 pears, peeled, cored & diced (I used jarred)
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbs of brandy
In a small saucepan combine the pears, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch and simmer over medium low heat until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the brandy, and let cool to room temperature. Set aside.
For the Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tbs brandy
1/2 cup water
In a small saucepan combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Stir in brandy.
For the Filling
17 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta, sugar and vanilla for at least 5 minutes, until creamy.
Meanwhile, beat the cream until firm peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the ricotta mixture. Fold in the cooled pear mixture.
Remove one of the cake layers from the pan and place on a serving platter large enough to hold the outer ring of the springform pan. Brush the cake with 1/2 of the syrup to moisten it. Pile the filling in the center of the cake and put the springform ring back over the cake.
Gently spread the filling to the edges and then top with second layer of cake. Brush the remaining syrup over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer until set, about 2 hours. Remove the springform ring and refrigerate until ready to serve.
*****For the giveaway; there are 4 ways to win. The first two are mandatory*****
1.Leave a comment on this page telling me your favorite Italian dessert.
2. Head over to Cookistry check out all of the other posts; leave a comment on one of them and come back here to let me know.
3. Tweet about this giveaway leaving a comment here letting me know. Use #virtualpotluck in your tweet.
4. Follow me on either Facebook and/or Twitter....and come back here to let me know
Contest ends Friday November 18th at midnight EST. Winner will be picked by random generator and announced shortly after.