Dolci e Pasticcini (Desserts and Pastries)


I cannot remember a holiday, or any family gathering for that matter, when we didn’t all enjoy my mom’s cassadeles. She does something special to them….they are hard to duplicate exactly, but certainly worth trying.

5 Cups Flour
1 ½ Cups Sugar
2 Tbsp. Baking Powder
2 Sticks of Butter, Room Temperature
4 Eggs
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder with the butter until the dough has a crumbly texture. Make a well in the center and add 4 eggs and the vanilla. Knead by hand until smooth. Form dough into rings. Dip into colored sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. The finished cookie should be light brown and slightly crisp (not hard).



This is a traditional ricotta cookie, and my sister Karen makes this recipe during every holiday season. It is a delicious, soft cookie, accented by the confectioners sugar icing and optional sprinkles for holiday decorating.

Cookie Dough:
2 Sticks of Butter, Room Temperature
2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 lb. Ricotta Cheese (Whole Milk)
2 Tsp. Vanilla
4 Cups Flour (sift first, then measure)
1 Tsp. Baking Powder & 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Stick of Butter, 2 Cups Confectioners Sugar (Sifted), 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

In a large bowl, cream the butter and add the sugar gradually. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the ricotta cheese and vanilla. Beat for one minute. In a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the flour mixture gradually to the other ingredients while stirring. Cover bowl and chill two hours or overnight. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cover your hands with flour and use a spoon to form the dough into small balls (about 1 tablespoon). Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are very light brown around the edges. As the cookies are baking prepare the icing. Melt the butter and add confectioners sugar and vanilla. Add food coloring if desired. When the cookies are done baking, place them on racks to cool. When they are fully cooled, use a spatula or knife to add icing to each one. (Important Note: The icing is much easier to spread when it is warm (not hot). When the icing stiffens up and becomes more difficult to spread, put it in the microwave for 10 second intervals and stir.)

ricotta cookies


This recipe is really delicious and very easy. I was experimenting with a fruit dip one day, and realized that this mixture could be utilized in many different combinations. The dessert looks great on a holiday buffet, and provides a perfect sized “finger food” dessert. You will be surprised at the deep, rich flavors.

1-10 oz. Jar Lemon Curd (Dickinson’s Brand)
1-8 oz. Container Cool Whip
Mini Phyllo Shells
Fresh Raspberries

In a mixing bowl, combine the lemon curd and the cool whip. Place the curd mixture in a large Ziploc bag, cutting a small end off one of the corners for piping. Pipe the filling into the mini phyllo shells and top with a raspberry for garnish. These shells can be filled several hours in advance of your event.

Other Combinations:
Use coconut curd and top with toasted coconut.
Use lime curd and top with raspberries.
Use banana curd and top with dried banana slice.
Use any curd available and top with your favorite garnish.



This is a delicious dessert that I make often. It is simple to prepare, using premade angel food cake. For a lower calorie dessert, eliminate the Grand Marnier and use light whipped cream….but that’s not much fun! Feel free to modify–any type of cake or liquor can be substituted, based upon your preference.

1 Cup Angel Food Cake, Cut into Cubes
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier
½ Cup Mixed Berries (Blackberries, Blueberries & Raspberries)
1 Cup Whipped Cream

In a bowl or decorative glass, layer the cubed angel food cake. Drizzle the grand marnier over the angel food cake. Top with the mixed berries and whipped cream, and repeat the layers, ending with the whipped cream. Enjoy!


JESSICA’S NUTELLA CREPES (see Blog for detailed instructions)

We enjoyed nutella crepes for the first time at a small pizza shop near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy. This quickly became my daughter, Jessica’s, favorite. We ordered this dish many times during our visit, and have tried to recreate the recipe from memory. I hope we have done it justice!

2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk & ¼ Cup Water
2 Tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Flour
2 Tbsp. Sugar & 2 Tbsp. Melted Butter
1 Tbsp. Butter (to grease skillet)
Filling: 1 Cup Nutella
Topping: Confectioners Sugar

In a blender, add all ingredients for the crepe batter and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into a bowl, cover and let batter sit for at least 30 minutes. When batter is ready, melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add approx. ½ cup of the batter to the skillet and swirl around so that the batter evenly and thinly coats the bottom. Cook for about 30 seconds and flip over. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a plate. (Crepes can be placed on a baking sheet and kept warm in the oven while making whole batch). Separately, in a small bowl, add the nutella and microwave for approx. 1 minute, until melted and spreadable. To serve, spread each crepe with the nutella filling. Roll or fold the crepe, and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. This is best when served warm.


Affogato literally means “drowned” in Italian. This dessert is very simple, covering ice cream with a shot of espresso (thus “drowning” the ice cream). Traditionally, affogato is served with vanilla gelato or ice cream, but I enjoy this dessert most with coffee ice cream. Feel free to choose any ice cream or gelato that you prefer. Top with a shot of espresso, whipped cream, shaved chocolate, or any topping you prefer. Serve immediately and enjoy!

2 Small Scoops of Ice Cream
1 Shot of Espresso (or strong brewed coffee)
Whipped Cream
Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean

Place 2 small scoops of ice cream in a decorative bowl or coffee cup, then pour a shot of espresso or strong brewed coffee on top of the ice cream. Top with whipped cream and a chocolate covered coffee bean.

Affogato Picture


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