Honestly, sometimes I find myself weighing up the advantages of having a dual heritage.
Photo Credit: For the November 2013 issue of SALife, I used pandoro to make my Christmas Bombe Alaska. Time to bring out the flame thrower again.
Here we are, first week of January, and I am again dealing with slivers of pandoro and hunks of panettone – all wrapped lovingly in brown paper and stored in an airtight tin.
But, wait, I also have two whole panettone, still in their expensive boxes. We, a family who loves this festive bread, may never get around to eating these delicious gifts lovingly given by friends and family.
Do you have the same problem?
If you don't, then skip this blog, it will make no sense to you at all. You will not understand our angst. Count yourself lucky to have ordered just enough panettone – it is a life skill that when I am minister for Education, I will include in the Year Eleven curriculum under the heading: Mastering Essential Algorithms.
For the rest of us, I can only offer help in the way of recipes and ideas to deal with this calamity. I know. Prego.
Firstly, remember, if stored correctly, panettone and to a lesser extent pandoro, will last for several weeks, so don’t panic too early. In fact, one year I had to buy a panettone in February to satisfy a request from a friend for a Berry Panettone Dome. I guess the adage holds true, act in haste, repent at leisure.
Photo: Berry Panettone Dome. The recipe is totally un PC - highjacking, as it does, a perfectly good English recipe. Follow the directions for a proper English summer pudding but in place of bread, use slices of panettone and make it in a pudding bowl. Weigh down with a plate. Leave overnight so the slices take up the juices and serve with fresh berries, dusted with icing sugar.
On Christmas Eve morning we break open the first of our pandoro or panettone. We are an indecisive family and can't decide which we like better. So we buy, or in our case, make, both.
Either is delicious served plain, accompanied by a glass of sparkling Asti Spumante or vermouth. It makes me sad that Spumante has such a poor reputation in Australia, where it is regarded as a sight gag. The best Spumante, such as Gangia, from south eastern Piemonte, drunk at 4 degress, is like squashing a cold muscat grape in your mouth. It is a taste of Heaven with pandoro or panettone, as they are not overly sweet cakes but respond to the mimosa and honey overtones in the wine.
Photo Credit: Home Made Panettone, here served with Lillet vermouth. For the recipe, see my earlier blog on Christmas at my house.
Photo: For an indulgent breakfast, make a kind of french toast fingers with the cake. I sandwich them with lemon curd, but you could use Nutella or Dolce de Leche.
Thickly slice pandoro, then cut into matching fingers. Sandwich two pieces together with lemon curd, Nutella or caramel and dip in beaten eggs combined with a little cream. Fry lightly in melted butter and sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar.
I love a simple Bread Pudding. I like to make it with left over panettone, which I butter and sprinkle bits of chocolate through the layers.
Ice Cream Cake
Hollow the centre of a whole panettone, fill with top shelf vanilla ice cream, studded with glace` fruit and chopped chocolate, wrap in aluminium foil and freeze. Of course, you then have the problem of the crumbs from the middle. See below.
Photo: Make the cake into crumbs. Mix one lot with white melted chocolate and chopped pistachio. Roll in fine pistachio crumbs and garnish with chocolate and pistachio.
For the second lot, make a mocha flavour. Mix the crumbs with melted dark chocolate and coffee. Roll into dark chocolate powder and top with a chocolate coffee bean.
The last flavour is choc/orange. Mix the cake crumbs with melted milk chocolate and finely chopped orange zest. Roll into cocoa and decorate with orange zest or gold leaf.
Photo: This, above, was my contribution to New Year's Eve dinner. The bottom layer was pandoro heavily spritzed with raspberry liqueur, the next layer was of pureed raspberry jelly, topped with fresh berries. Over this went a thin layer of custard and then Italian meringue piped on. Then, out with the blow torch for a bit of eyebrow flaming fun.
Photo: Zuccotto. This is a lavish Florentine dessert. To achieve the striped effect, show the crust side alternating with the middle sections. Line a pudding basin with plastic wrap - it is meant to replicate Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore, got it, Brunelleschi? Line with the pandoro strips. Splash with the liqueur of your choice, say Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Meanwhile whip 200 g cream to firm peaks, sweeten with a little sugar. Mix with equal quantities each of mascarpone and smooth ricotta. Flavour one third with melted chocolate or cocoa and fold through chocolate chips and blanched, toasted and chopped almonds. In the second amount of ricotta cream, fold through chopped glace` fruits such as apricots or orange. This cream goes in first. Allow to set for an hour in the fridge. Then put in the chocolate cream. Cover with more strips of cake and set in the fridge for several hours.
Photo: And now for the simplest of all. Our dessert for Boxing Day. Broken up pieces of panettone on the bottom, spritzed with twelve year old St Agnes brandy from the brandy soaked prunes which are the next layer. Vanilla bean custard, passionfruit jelly. Topped with mascarpone, and finally toasted crumble of panettone.
And still there are two boxes left! Truly, the struggle is real.
Happy New Year.