I really hope you all aren't Italy-out-ed yet--I promise that I'm coming to the end of my Italy trip photos! It just seemed that breaking them up into individual 'stories' made for the best approach so as not to overload a single blog post. And I really like the process of coming up with cohesive visual stories/essays and accompanying recipes to present. It's the academic in me. :)
Here was the first portrait of Rome from a few weeks ago, a story of alleyways and the reds, pinks, and oranges of the external face of the city. Today, this portrait of Rome is about its internal treasures, the blues and golds and the history that seeps from the corners and shadows.
[inside Ancient Rome]
Literally outside our door in Travestere, we discovered an ah-mazing pastry shop -- Biscottificio Innocenti -- that we became obsessed with. And by "obsessed," I seriously mean obsessed. All of the pastries are sold by weight there, and over the course of the week between the three of us traveling together, we polished off a neat 4.5 POUNDS (that's 2 kilos!) of cookies. Yes, we were obsessed. (Thank goodness for all the walking we did in Rome--we needed it between the cookies and the constant gelato!) Note also that this does not include the crostata slices that we kept getting, too!
There were so, so many different types of cookies at Biscottificio Innocenti. Many were based around a basic shortbread and then either slathered in jam, studded with cherries, sprinkled with sugars, or dipped in a soft, yielding chocolate ganache. My favorite one, I quickly discovered, were these small sandwich cookies that had it all: apricot-apple marmalade in between the buttery shortbread cookies, half-dipped into chocolate. Marmalade! Cookie! Chocolate! All in one satisfying bite--what more really do you want?
(Also! The proprietress's name is Stefania! What are the odds of that?! Because she loaded us up with so many buttery and sugary treats, she quickly became one of our favorite people in all of Rome.)
[inside Il Vaticano. Top to bottom: the Egyptian exhibit; a room based on the Pantheon; the ridiculously gaudy ceiling of the map room; the Sistine Chapel; the famous Vatican staircase. Last two photos: inside Santa Maria church in Trastevere; the Tiber]
After the insane number of cookies we ended up consuming, we all felt a bit of withdrawal suddenly getting cut off from our source when we came home from Italy, so I set out trying to concoct my own version of chocolate-dipped jam sandwich cookies. The Italian kind from Innocenti were good because the cookies themselves weren't too sweet, which allowed for a sweeter but very thin layer of jam inside. For my version, I used a sweet apricot-orange jam from my favorite local jam company (yay, Blue Chair!), and dipped the shortbread into a dark chocolate ganache. The ganache firms up just enough after an hour or two so that you can safely eat the cookies without dripping chocolate everywhere, but because it's a ganache, the chocolate gives as soon as you bite into it, almost like it's melting into the buttery shortbread inside. Mmmmmm... a piece of Italy in my own kitchen. :)
[click on photo for a larger image]
If you missed any of my previous Italy trip posts, I encourage you to go back and catch up:
P.S. If anyone happens to know what these cookies are called in Italian, I would love to know! I managed to learn the names of a few types of cookies, but the name of these still eludes me.
Read on for recipe....
Chocolate-covered Jam Sandwich Cookies
makes 20 - 24 cookies
1 tspn baking powder
¼ tspn salt
2 cups (280 g) all purpose flour
12 + 1 Tbspn butter, softened
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
¼ cup (28 gr) powdered sugar
jam or marmalade
89 g (3 oz) dark chocolate
89 g (3 oz) heavy cream
1. Combine the baking powder, salt, and flour in a bowl. Set aside.
2. In a mixer bowl, cream 12 Tbspn of butter for 2 – 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Gradually add the sugar and powdered sugar and continue to beat for a few minutes more.
4. Add the egg and beat well.
5. Add the flour mixture in three stages, mixing just until combined.
6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Prepare baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpats.
8. Roll out the cold dough on a lightly floured surface to a ½-inch thickness. Using a 1¾-inch cookie cutter, cut out small rounds. Reroll the leftover dough and continue to cut out cookies. Place cookies on a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes if the dough is no longer cold.
9. Bake each sheet for 15 minutes, rotating once half-way through the baking time. Cookies are done when the edges begin to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
10. To assemble, spread a small amount of jam on a cookie and sandwich with another one.
11. Finely chop the dark chocolate and place in a bowl.
12. Combine the heavy cream and remaining 1 Tbspn of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, and pour on top of the chocolate. Let sit for a minute, and then whisk until smooth.
13. Dip the cookies in the chocolate ganache, shaking gently to remove the excess, and let dry on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat for at least 2 hours until the ganache has firmed up and is no longer liquid.