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Do you know how the recipe for gluten-free Carnival Fried Tortelli came about? By pure chance, while experimenting with doughs for the Cicerchiata cooked live with the Rieti and Viterbo Chamber of Commerce! Among various combinations of flour, egg and sugar, having obtained a beautiful smooth and firm dough, I thought I would try making Tortelli with plum jam.

The result? Delicious fried Carnival Tortelli! And it’s a good thing I had written down all the weights of the ingredients, otherwise I would have missed out on the doses for an ideal dough for a traditional recipe that has always been prepared in my family (usually in a version with gluten) for Mardi Gras.

Here are other recipes you can prepare for Carnival: Cicerchiata, Fried cream e Krapfen with jam.

Gluten-free Carnival Fried Tortelli

54g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 10 Tortelli

  • 150g plum jam*, very firm
  • 100g gluten-free flour mix for bread, brand BiAglut**
  • 100g gluten-free bread flour, brand Mix B Schär**
  • 2 eggs
  • 20-30g milk (add it gradually)
  • 25g sugar
  • 15g butter
  • lemon rind
  • sunflower seed oil for deep frying

Preparation

  1. Pour the eggs into a bowl, beat them with a fork together with the sugar, add the soft butter and lemon zest. Gradually incorporate the flour, stirring with a fork until the mixture is firm enough to knead with your hands. Add enough milk to obtain a firm mixture, then transfer to a cutting board and knead with your hands until you obtain a smooth, homogeneous and non-sticky dough.
  2. Cover it with cling film and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 5mm, place a teaspoon of very firm plum jam on top of the pastry, cover with another layer and cut out the Tortelli with the mould provided. Continue until everything is used up.
  4. Heat the seed oil to a temperature of 170-180°C and deep-fry a few Tortelli at a time, using a skimmer to flip them so that they brown evenly. Drain them well on paper towels.

tortelli-dolci-di-carnevale

Version with gluten of Carnival Fried Tortelli

Replace the BiAglut and Schär flours with equal amounts of 00 wheat flour and adjust the amount of milk added.

This idea for gluten-free carnival sweets came to me from my friends at the Rieti and Viterbo Chamber of Commerce, who, keeping alive an initiative conceived during the Covid-19 pandemic, organised FB lives from theOsteria Le Tre Porte in Rieti to publicise the products of the area by sending to bloggers and journalists throughout Italy the ingredients to prepare various dishes including Cicerchiata.

When I received the information about the recipes we would prepare together, I had not imagined that Cicerchiata would be a dessert. Instead, in the province of Rieti, it is the traditional Carnival dessert inspired by Campania’s ‘Struffoli‘. The traditional form is that of a garland, which is obtained by pouring the sweets into a doughnut mould, while I’m proposing a mini-serving version so as not to be tempted to eat too much of it.

Given the fundamental role of honey in this recipe, it seems that the spread of Cicerchiata is linked to the development of bee-keeping in this area of Italy, while the name is presumed to derive from the legume grass peas of which the sweet balls of dough reproduce the shape and colour, so Cicerchiata would be a nice ‘stack of grass peas’.

Like many Carnival sweets, Circerchiata symbolises regeneration through its circular shape, the frying that turns a cold dough into a delicacy, and the vitality of honey and colourful decorations.

A tip for those of us who have to be careful with both fried food and simple sugars? Form very small balls, just like dried chickpeas, and reduce the amount of honey to the minimum necessary to hold the precious compositions together.

Here are a few more ideas for Carnival: Krapfen with jam e Fried cream.

cicerchiata

Cicerchiata

60g carbohydrates per 100g without candied fruit and coloured sprinkles

Ingredients

  • 160g flour mix for bread, brand BiAglut**
  • 2 eggs + 15g egg white
  • 100g honey
  • 40g brown rice flour*
  • 25g sugar
  • 20g butter
  • lemon rind
  • slivered almonds*
  • candied fruit*
  • coloured sprinkles*

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Pour the eggs into a bowl, beat them with a fork together with the sugar, add the soft butter and lemon zest. Gradually incorporate the flour, stirring with a fork until the mixture is firm enough to knead with your hands. Transfer everything onto the work surface and continue kneading with your hands until you obtain a smooth and homogeneous dough, similar to fresh pasta.
  2. Divide the dough into small portions, form them into sticks of dough having a diameter of about 8mm as for making Gnocchi, then cut them into chunks no more than 8mm-1cm long. Round the pieces of dough with your fingers to form small balls.
  3. Heat the seed oil to a temperature of 170-180°C and deep fry a few balls at a time. When they are golden brown, drain them well and let them cool on kitchen paper.
  4. Meanwhile, pour the honey into a large pan and heat it gently for a few minutes. When it has browned slightly, turn off the heat and add the fried balls, stirring to coat them evenly. Finally, add the almonds and sprinkles, taking care to keep some aside for decoration. Mix again, pour the mixture into the desired moulds, garnish with the almonds and sprinkles kept aside and serve.

Cicerchiata

Version with gluten of Cicerchiata

Replace BiAglut flour and rice flour with 250g wheat flour 00 and add 30g sugar instead of 25g.

Naturally gluten-free chocolate sweets with candied violets for Valentine’s Day: the candied flower from Parma to give a sweet scent to the palate.

Violette

Violets

Candied flowers and chocolate

Violets are the symbol of spring when their unmistakable colour begins to paint the still cold earth with purple and white brush strokes. This little flower, delicate in form and colour, bursts forth with its powerful scent to announce the magic of nature’s reawakening, which repeats itself every year like a rebirth.

Violets arrived in Parma thanks to Marie Louise of Austria, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was Duchess of the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla between 1814 and 1847. The Duchess’s passion for this flower meant that many violet cultivations were planted in the area , which the monks of the Convento dell’Annunciata used to obtain the essence through steam distillation of flowers and leaves for the Duchess’s exclusive use. The fragrance created using the precious essential oil soon became famous throughout Europe under the name of Parma Violet.

Even today, at Marie Louise’s behest, her tomb in Vienna is always adorned with violets.

If the use of the violet in perfumery is no surprise, its use in cooking is certainly less well known, especially in the form of a candied sweet, made with painstaking care, artistry and charm by a few skilled hands.

Candying

The production of candied violets is closely linked to nature because, as we all know if we like to pick these fragrant flowers, their appearance along the paths and in the meadows varies according to the temperature, so the few companies dedicated to their processing have their binoculars aimed at spotting the mauve-coloured dots popping up on the horizon.

To be candied, the flowers must be quite large – as the process will reduce their size – and perfectly intact. Once carefully gathered into bunches, the violets are sprayed with fresh water to gently wash them, the stems are removed one by one, then the petals are brushed by hand with glucose syrup before being coated with caster sugar. Covered with sugar, violets are placed in tanks containing glucose and sugar, called Brillantiere, where they crystallise, taking on the appearance that characterises the finished product.

The most striking thing when eating a violet is the scent: a truly unusual experience. Personally, I only discovered in adulthood that these sweets on sale in Parma’s traditional pastry shops were real flowers treated with such passion and not sugar souvenirs for tourists!

Le violette candite sul dolcetto

The candied violets on the cake

In the month of love, a flower to eat.

I wanted to take the opportunity of Valentine’s Day, which I love celebrating in the Anglo-Saxon way (i.e. celebrating love in all its forms and not just between married couples or fiancés), to share with you this traditional preparation from my hometown because I thought you might find it nice to give a ‘bouquet’ of violets to use to make deliciously beautiful and fragrant, mouth-watering treats, to be consumed sparingly when approaching rich and precious things… like a chocolate treat! If you prefer to bake a cake, use candied violets to decorate the Lovers’ Sacher.

Where to find candied violets

In most confectioner’s shops in Parma, especially during the first months of the year, pretty packages of candied violets will pop up, ideal for having a little piece of tradition in a sweet. To be on the safe side, you can enter the realm of confectionery enthusiasts (both physical and online), the shop Dalla A allo Zucchero in the city centre, where you will find any ingredient or equipment to make your cakes, including these beautiful violets.

Chocolate sweets with candied violets

carbohydrates of shortbread bases 53.38g per 100g

carbohydrates of chocolate mousse 22.12g per 100g

Ingredients for the shortbread for 12 sweets

  • 110g wholemeal rice flour*
  • 65g butter
  • 65g brown or coconut sugar
  • 35g almond flour*
  • 25g potato starch*
  • 25g tapioca starch*
  • 10g bitter cocoa powder*
  • 1 egg
  • grated orange peel or orange paste*
  • 1 pinch of salt

Ingredients for the chocolate mousse

  • 200g fresh cream
  • 100g dark chocolate*
  • 50g milk
  • 30g egg white (about 1)
  • 30g sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice;
  • grated coconut*
  • candied violets*

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation of shortbread and mousse

  1. Prepare the shortbread by putting all the ingredients in the bowl of the planetary mixer; mix for a few minutes until the mixture is blended. Form a ball, cover it with cling film and place it in the refrigerator for the time needed to prepare the chocolate mousse
  2. Chop the dark chocolate finely; bring the milk to the boil and pour it over the dark chocolate, stirring with a whisk so that the chocolate melts completely.
  3. Whip the egg whites until stiff and add the sugar, mixing it in. Add this meringue to the melted chocolate, which will still be warm.
  4. Whip the cream until it has the texture of a Greek yoghurt (semi-whipped), then add this to the chocolate and egg white mixture. Place the mixture in the bowl of the planetary mixer and whip it for about 2 minutes with the whisk so that it is creamy, but soft. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for the time needed to prepare the shortbread bases.

Assembly of chocolate sweets

  1. Roll out the shortbread to a thickness of about 5mm with a rolling pin and cut out discs of the diameter corresponding to the tartlet mould (I use the non-stick mould for 12 muffins by Le Creusetit is very convenient because it doesn’t need to be greased), make them fit well in the hole, pierce the bottom with a fork and bake in a static oven preheated to 180°C for 10-13 minutes.
  2. If you have some shortbread left, cut some heart-shaped biscuits that you can use to decorate the sweets.
  3. Take the tartlets out of the oven and allow them to cool completely.
  4. Take a pastry bag and choose the tip you want: I chose the smooth 1.5cm diameter tip. Remove the mousse from the refrigerator, fill a pastry bag and top the tartlets as desired. Sprinkle with grated coconut and complete with a candied violet and a small biscuit.

Dolcetti per san valentino

Version with gluten of Chocolate sweets with candied violets

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten. If you want to use wheat flour, replace rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch with equal amounts of wheat flour.

On 13 January, Parma celebrates its patron saint, Saint Ilario, and, as in all Italian cities, there is a recipe inextricably linked to the city’s patron saint: in the case of Parma, the recipe is Scarpette di Sant’Ilario biscuits, which you can also easily prepare in a gluten free version.

Why a biscuit with this unusual shape?

History has it that Bishop Ilario from Poitiers (circa 315-369 A.D.) found himself passing through the city of Parma on a cold, snowy winter day wearing only a pair of old, worn-out shoes. Pitifully, a cobbler gave him a pair of new shoes and the next day, in his workshop, Ilario’s old shoes had turned into golden shoes. So it is that the shoe-shaped biscuits richly decorated with coloured icing want to celebrate the Saint on the anniversary of his death, and the generosity of the people from the Emilia region.

Images of the saint can be found in several monuments in the city, including a fresco in the pendentives of the cathedral dome by Correggio and a fresco inside the Church of San Giovanni by Parmigianinoboth of which you cannot miss if you visit my city.

Decorating these biscuit shoes is therefore a tradition, especially to the delight of children who do not go to school on the holiday and thus have time to engage in such a creative activity together with their parents on a somewhat unconventional festive day. To hear the story of St. Ilario in detail, I tell it to you in this episode of Santi comuni.

The only difficulty you might encounter? Finding the mould to cut the biscuits for which you will probably have to resort to some specialised shops in Parma, such as Dalla A allo Zuccheroin the heart of the city to tempt us with everything you need to have fun with sweets.

Naturally, given the abundant use of sugar for decoration, the Scarpette di Sant’Ilario are not very suitable for habitual consumption, especially for those with diabetes: so be careful not to get carried away either by the decorations (which is why I have not been able to tell you the carbohydrate value of the decorated biscuits because it can vary very significantly depending on the decoration made), or by the consumption of these little gems which are a real temptation!

Biscotti a forma di scarpette di sant'Ilario

Scarpette di Sant’Ilario biscuits

carbohydrates of the shortbread 67g per 100 g of baked biscuits

Ingredients

  • 250g gluten free flour mix for bread, brand BiAglut**
  • 250g brown rice flour*
  • 200g softened butter
  • 170g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 8g baking powder*
  • grated lemon rind
  • 1 pinch of salt 

Ingredients for the hard icing

  • 150g icing sugar*
  • 25g pasteurised egg white
  • food colours* 

Ingredients for the soft icing

  • 140g icing sugar*
  • 25g pasteurised egg white
  • food colours*

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Put the flour, butter, sugar, salt and eggs in a mixing bowl. Mix well, then add baking powder and grated lemon zest. Cover with a piece of cling film and leave to rest for the time needed to prepare the icing, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Take bowls with rounded bottoms, one for each colour you wish to prepare (you can also follow my YouTube video to help you with the preparation of the icings). For the hard white icing, place 25g of pasteurised egg white in a bowl and gradually add 150g of icing sugar, stirring with a spoon so that the mixture is smooth and even. For the soft icing, repeat exactly the same procedure, adding 140g sugar.
  3. Starting with the white bases, add the necessary colours and sugar to obtain the various colours, both hard and soft.
    The hard icing will be used with a pastry bag fitted with a nozzle with a hole of about 1mm, while the soft icing will be dispensed using a teaspoon and the rounded tip of a knife.
  4. Cover all icings with cling film in contact with the surface until use.
  5. Roll out the short pastry with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 5mm, cut the biscuits into the shoe shape, place them on a baking tin covered with parchment paper and bake them in a convection oven preheated to 160°C for 10 minutes.
  6. When the biscuits are completely cooled, form the outline with one of the hard icings, white or coloured, placed in the pastry bag; cover the surface of the biscuit inside the outline using the soft icing to be spread with the help of a rounded tip of a knife so that no gaps are left. Let the icing dry for at least 15 minutes before making other decorations with a pastry bag on the soft icing to avoid colour smudging. To enjoy making other similar biscuits, also check out this recipe.

 Scarpette di sant'ilario

Version with gluten

Replace the gluten-free flour with wheat flour and mix with 2 whole eggs and 1 yolk.

 

A Celebration Sacher because for the first time in my life I will not be at home for Christmas and this makes me feel really strange.

The atmosphere is unusual because we have decided not to light up and decorate our house, which will remain closed during the holidays, but this makes me a little bit sad even though the reason for being away is a real dream: a trip we have been looking forward to for years!  So, to recreate a hint of Christmas atmosphere, I thought of one of my favourite cakes and dressed it up for the occasion: my gluten-free Celebration Sacher! And the Sacher is definitely one of my favourite cakes, as you can also see from my Lovers’ Sacher.

It was definitely a more quiet celebration, but at least we got a taste of the ‘sweetest’ and most anticipated holiday of the year since I don’t know what I will be able to bring to my family’s table on 24 December on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean!

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and a sparkling start to the New Year, I hope to bring home some nice surprise recipes for 2020. See you soon!

Celebration Sacher

40.31g carbohydrates per 100g

 

Ingredients for the cake

  • 150g dark chocolate*
  • 150g butter
  • 150g sugar
  • 100g wholemeal rice flour*
  • 5 eggs
  • 50g rice starch*
  • a bit of vanilla from the pod
  • a pinch of salt

Ingredients for filling and coating

  • 450g apricot jam*
  • 150g dark chocolate*
  • 95g fresh cream
  • 30g water

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie or microwave and mix well so that the two ingredients are perfectly incorporated. Let the mixture cool down.
  2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and whip the latter until stiff with a pinch of salt, then set aside.
  3. Add sugar, then one yolk at a time to the chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk. Add the sifted flour and vanilla, continuing to stir so that no lumps form.
  4. Finally fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
  5. Pour the mixture into a 24cm diameter cake tin lined with wet and squeezed parchment paper so that it adheres well to the sides of the tin, tap the tin on a surface to release any air bubbles and bake in a static oven preheated to 180°C for 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool. The cake will be fairly compact: this is typical of Sacher, which needs the apricot jam and the chocolate coating to express itself at its best.
  6. Cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread 250g of apricot jam on the lower half, then cover it with the top half. Pour the remaining jam into a thick-bottomed saucepan with the water, place it on the heat and allow it to melt slightly, then strain it through a thin sieve to obtain a kind of thick, smooth juice. Use this apricot juice to thoroughly wet the surface and sides of the chocolate cake with the help of a brush (you may have some leftover juice).
  7. Prepare the ganache for coating the cake by chopping the chocolate well and pouring over it the boiling cream heated in a saucepan.
  8. Mix well to obtain a smooth and uniform cream, let it cool and cover the cake with the help of a smooth-bladed knife or spatula. Decorate your Sacher with Christmas decorations of your choice. Sacher is even softer when eaten after 5 or 6 hours, or even the day after since the apricot jam will have been perfectly absorbed by the cake.

sacher-senza-glutine

Version with gluten of Celebration Sacher

The recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

December is the month of dinners, aperitifs and delicious social moments, accompanied by the desire to wish each other well and celebrate the arrival of Christmas. But delicious doesn’t necessarily mean heavy, and Dairy-free fruit cheesecakes are perfect for those who have to deal with diabetes and coeliac disease, but also for those who are lactose intolerant.

This very simple, yet colourful and tasty recipe is therefore an idea not only for an end-of-meal dessert, but also for a snack or a fun breakfast.

These cheesecakes were also enthusiastically received at the last Parma Ham Festival where the focus was on food intolerances and how to look for solutions to avoid giving up taste and eye catching ideas. And for a savoury snack idea, try the Gluten free potato pizza with olives.

Dairy-free fruit cheesecakes

carbohydrates 13.47g per 100g without chocolate decorations

Ingredients for 12 servings

  • 500g white soy yoghurt*
  • 250g blueberry soy yoghurt*
  • 120g mixed fruit (kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, mango, etc.)
  • 70g sugar coated peanuts* or nut brittle*
  • 30g brown sugar
  • 12 dark chocolate decorations*

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Add brown sugar to the white soy yoghurt and mix well.
  2. Take 12 single-portion cups and place 4 sugar coated peanuts or small pieces of nut brittle on the bottom of each one. Place 2 heaped tablespoons of white yoghurt on top of the base, then a heaped tablespoon of blueberry yoghurt, spreading it so that it covers the light yoghurt: the colour is in strong contrast, so you should see a clear separation.
  3. Decorate each cup with 2 slices of fruit, varying so that they are very colourful and cheerful. Finally, add a chocolate decoration to each cup and serve.
finte-cheesecake-alla-frutta-senza-glutine-uno-chef-per-gaia

Dairy free fruit cheesecakes

 

Version with gluten of Dairy free fruit cheesecakes

The recipe contains only naturally gluten-free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

Are you planning a dinner party but still undecided about which dessert to bring to the table? No problem, we took care of it preparing an easy and delicious Panna cotta with berries.

Today we recommend a recipe for a soft dessert that combines the sweetness of cream with the pleasantly tart flavour of berries.
Easy to make and mouth-watering to eat, here’s how to prepare Panna cotta!

You can also watch the video to prepare it step by step with me!

Panna cotta with berries

11.30g carbohydrates per 100g

 

Ingredients for Panna cotta

  • 400g milk
  • 350g fresh cream
  • 80g sugar
  • 15g gelatine sheets* (corresponding to 3 sheets)
  • a bit of vanilla from the pod

Ingredients for the berry sauce

  • 390g berries (blackberries, raspberries and blueberries)
  • 20g agave juice*
  • 15g lemon juice

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, add the sugar and put everything on the heat, stirring occasionally so that the sugar dissolves well.
  2. Separately, soak the gelatine in water to soften it. When the milk is about to come to the boil, remove it from the heat and add the well-drained gelatine, stirring with a whisk.
  3. Let cool and fill moulds of the desired shape, then place them in the refrigerator for a few hours so that the mixture solidifies.

panna-cotta-ai-frutti-di-bosco-blog-uno-chef-per-gaia-ph-chiara-marando

  1. At this point, prepare the berry sauce. You can do this in advance, to save time, or just before serving the cake if you prefer it warm.
    Place the berries in a non-stick pan with the lemon juice and agave juice. Let them cook 5 minutes on high heat until they have released their deep red sauce. Wait until it has cooled down
  2. Remove the Panna cotta from the moulds and place it directly on the serving plate, then decorate it with the sauce.

panna-cotta-ai-frutti-di-bosco-blog-uno-chef-per-gaia-ph-chiara-marando

Version with gluten of Panna cotta with berries

The recipe is naturally gluten-free, so no adaptation is needed for the version with gluten.

Would you like another mouth-watering and easy-to-prepare soft dessert? Try Peach pudding with coconut and mint with no added sugar.