Panini Girl

My obsessions-Italy and Cooking


May 28, 2015

1 comment

Brown Sugar Pound Cake


You may be starting to think that I don’t cook anymore. I just looked back at the blog and the last four recipes that I posted were for baked goods. I do cook, in fact I cook dinner every night and not too long ago I began cooking for work too. It seems that for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get photos taken before sitting down to supper. Note to self: make an effort to photograph some savory creations…

At any rate, friends were coming for lunch and I had planned on making panna cotta with a raspberry sauce for dessert until I saw this recipe. The idea of a pound cake using dark brown sugar appealed to me and once in the oven the kitchen was filled with the sweet scent of molasses. The finished product was a dense loaf cake topped with a sugar glaze. It was love at first bite and we enjoyed it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of raspberry sauce. It’s just as tasty eaten out of hand with your morning coffee.

Brown Sugar Pound Cake (from Food 52)

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk (I used 2)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (original recipe called for 1 teaspoon)

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. In a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each one. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, beating until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top, and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cake cools, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients (add more milk, depending on how thin you want the glaze to be). Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack, and drizzle the glaze over the top. Wait for the glaze to set before slicing and serving the cake.

May 25, 2015


Thank You


Happy Memorial Day and a big thank you to all the men and women who have fought to keep us free. Somehow thank you just isn’t quite enough…

That’s my Dad somewhere in Italy sleeping in the front of his tank.

May 19, 2015


Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

cake 2

I have a huge file of recipes. Actually it’s not a file, it’s a basket and there’s no organization to it, none at all. I used to have an accordion file that was divided into categories but it was bursting at the seams so I took out the recipes that I wanted to make and started the basket. Now the basket is overflowing with new recipes. You’re probably wondering why I bother at all with clipping out recipes when everything’s on the internet, but I like doing it and find it easier to locate the dishes that I would like to try.

So last week I went through the basket and cleaned it up a bit and pulled out a few to get going on. This cake caught my eye and since berries are abundant right now and I had ricotta in the fridge I thought it was time to give it a go. This cake comes together in minutes and is moist and I had a piece before it cooled. Delicious warm, but just as good when I tried it again a few minutes ago.

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake (recipe from March 2015 Bon Appetit)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

April 27, 2015


Almond Coffee Cake

almond cake

Want to come over for some a cappuccino and a slice of cake? I’ve had this recipe lying out on the counter since I saw it on Food 52 about a month ago. If you like almonds, then this is certainly the cake for you. The interior is moist and a little chewy, while the sliced almonds give the crust a nice crunch.

You don’t even have to pull out your mixer as a mixing bowl and spatula will get the job done. Mine took only 30 minutes in the oven and so this would be prefect to throw together in the morning for breakfast or brunch. I think it was great just as is, but top it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve it for dessert.

Almond Coffee Cake

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with aluminum foil or butter a 10-inch pie plate. If you’ll be giving the cake as a gift, use a greased disposable pie tin. Combine the butter, crème fraîche, and 1 1/2 cups sugar and mix until well-combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until well-incorporated. Add the flour, salt, and almond extract. Mix well, then pour into the prepared skillet. Shower the cake with almonds and remaining sugar. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let the cake cool for 1 hour before serving.

April 11, 2015


Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake


Having a dinner party and looking for ideas? Get a copy of Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques and you’ll find a book full of menus that will wow your guests. From main courses to vegetables to desserts, I’ve yet to be disappointed. As you may have sensed I have a thing for hazelnuts and after a year or two of trying to replicate a cake I ate in Piemonte, I finally stopped searching after I found this cake.

When I first read the recipe I was a little concerned about using “two” sticks of butter for one small cake, but thankfully I didn’t let that get in the way. After taking one bite I was smitten and didn’t care one bit about the butter! The cake is moist and bursting with hazelnut flavor. Top with whipped cream, serve your guests and hope that there’s some leftover for breakfast in the morning.

P.S. Chef Goin served this as her wedding cake using 25 pounds of brown butter,25 pounds of hazelnuts and 150 eggs!

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake

5 ounces (about one heaping cup) hazelnuts
1/2 pound unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon melted extra for greasing the pan)
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 extra-large egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast the nuts for about 10 minutes, until they smell nutty. Wrap the nuts in a dishtowel, let sit for about 10 minutes, then rub the nuts in the towel to remove the skins. Cool.

Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan. Brush the pan with a little melted butter and line the bottom with the paper.

Place the rest of the butter in a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, and using a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook the butter until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.

Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the granulated sugar and mix on high speed 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold. Transfer the whites to a large mixing bowl.

Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third of a time. Remember to scrap the bottom of the brown butter pan with a rubber spatula to get all the little brown bits.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 45 minutes to 50 minutes. Cool on a rack 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves: 6-8

April 7, 2015


Sunday Morning In Piazza Popolo


It was early one Sunday morning and we were wandering aimlessly around Rome’s empty streets when we came up this scene in Piazza Popolo.


Slowly but surely these band members assembled into formation with their brass instruments and began to play.


We wondered “who are these musicians?”. Turns out they were members of Rome’s police force!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 533 other followers