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During the Christmas Holidays, Italians present Panettone to friends and neighbors as Christmas greetings. Stores and markets are stacked with colorful boxes of Panettone and restaurants have baskets filled with Panettone cups wrapped in colorful foil to give to their customers. We shop at a market in Como where they are baking Panettone day in and day out trying to keep up with the demand. It has become so popular that today you can find it year round, however not in the quantities seen during Christmas.
We have often received so many boxes of Panettone that we couldn’t possibly consume all of it. I freeze it and also make French toast, but my favorite is Panettone bread pudding. I use to make it the day after Christmas for a dessert, but I like to make homemade Panettone, so we now have it whenever I am into the mood to make it.
Panettone is eaten at anytime of the day and also with a glass of wine after dinner.
Panettone would make a great Christmas or New Years Day dessert.
Panettone Bread Pudding
Cook Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour @ 350 degrees F.
Yield: 8 Servings
6 cups homemade or store bought Panettone
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Whiskey
1 cup confectionery sugar
1 1/4 sticks butter, softened (2 tablespoons for greasing the baking dish)
Other Things Needed
8” x 8” baking dish
In bowl beat the eggs, milk, cream, sugar and the vanilla extract and set it aside.
Grease the baking dish with 2 tablespoons butter. Remove any dark sections of the Panettone and discard them. Cut the Panettone into square chunks and put them into the baking dish. Pour the custard over the top and move it gently around making sure that all the chunks are covered with the mixture. Place it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight. It is very important that it has absorbed the custard otherwise the inside of the Panettone will be dry.
Place the pudding in the middle of the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. After 45 minutes test it with a skewer, if it comes out dry and the top is a golden brown it is done. You might have to cook it for another 10-15 minutes.
Cool to room temperature before cutting.
Melt the butter and the confectionary sugar in a double boiler continually stirring. Remove from the heat and add whisky. You can use Amaretto if you prefer, but if you don’t want to use alcohol, serve it warm with crème anglais.
Keep the Panettone bread pudding refrigerated.
Note: You can also add chocolate bits and/or roasted almonds to the pudding.
Past Holiday Post Gift Ideas
Ciliegie Sotto Spirito
Crocante con Mandorle
There aren’t too many desserts that are not high in calories and fat. Also something you can make that is fast and pretty. Ricotta truffles are easy to make and you can use a variety of coatings according to your taste. It takes very little time and the only requirement is that they must be refrigerated until you serve them.
I like to make them with coconut, pure dark and milk cocoa powder and crushed pistachios. But other coatings such as chopped dates, any kind of chopped nuts or chocolate shavings in any of the different flavors available. It all depends on how many calories you want to add. They are pretty, flavorful and you don’t have to know how to bake to make this dessert. In fact people will ask you what they are made of because you can’t tell that it is Ricotta.
A friend of mine introduced me to these at a lovely Italian dinner in Milano. I’ve also used low fat Ricotta when we have been on a diet using only dark chocolate as a coating and a sweetener, and they can also be served to a diabetic.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 30 balls
1 cup confectionary sugar
1 cup good quality cocoa powder (no sugar added)
1 7 oz. package shredded sweet coconut
1 lb. of whole milk ricotta
Mix equal amounts of ricotta and powdered sugar and place the mixture in the refrigerator until it hardens to the point of being able to roll into a ball.
Roll out into small balls the size of chocolate truffles. Roll 50% of them in the cocoa powder and 50% of them in the grated coconut. Keep them refrigerated until you are ready to serve them.
It is possible to prepare them in the morning and serve in the evening. However, they will only stay a few days in the refrigerator and are never as good as when eaten the same day.
Zeppole are traditionally served on San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s Day) in Naples, which is on March 19th. They were first made in Naples by a baker and sold in front of his bakery from a street stand. You can still find them served in stalls on the streets today as well as in bakeries. Sometimes they are not rolled into a ball but scooped into the hot oil and look more like a fritter. Recipes can be found in cookbooks as early at 1834.
Emanuele Rocco (Le Zeppole, in Usi e Costumi di Napoli e contorni — Uses and Customs of Naples and Environs, Naples, 1857), who gives Cavalcanti’s recipe and adds, jokingly, that the inventor of such a delight deserves a statue with the following plaque: “Naples invented zeppole and all Italians licked their fingers.” He then says, “Thus our city government will be able to boast that they finally got one right, after all the mistakes they’ve made and continue to make every day.”
They can be made as either a savory or sweet dish. My grandmother made them with a piece of baccala in the middle, which I will post at a later date. My aunts say they were the best zappole they ever had, light as a feather with the salty taste of baccala. But they are still arguing over the recipe.
Zeppole are eaten anytime of the day as a snack or as a dessert after a meal dunked in a sweet wine, Moscato or Grappa.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes, or until they are golden brown
Yield: 24 Zeppole
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup raisins
1 small apple, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Grappa (Italian Liquor)
2 tablespoons Rum
1 small orange, zest only
Put the raisins into the Grappa and Rum; it should cover the raisins. Let them stand for about 1/2 hour or more.
Blend the eggs and sugar together until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, zest, vanilla and sugar together and add it to the egg mixture in a mixer. Pour in the Grappa and rum from the raisins. Chop the apples very fine and fold them in with the raisins into the batter.
Scoop out about 1/2 tablespoon of the batter. Cover your hands with flour and roll them into about the size of a golf ball. You can also scoop them out with a spoon and make them like fritters.
Heat the oil and drop them one at a time into the oil. They will float to the top and, with a ladle, constantly roll them around in the oil so that they brown on all sides – approximately 3 minutes or until they are golden brown. Place them on a rack or paper towels to drain and cool.
Put them in a bag filled with powdered sugar or granulated sugar mixed with a little cinnamon and gently toss them, coating them with the sugar. They can also be dipped in warm honey.