DOLCI (Desserts, Italian and otherwise)

Lemon-Coconut Bars

In a bowl, combine:

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Cut in 3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) cold butter. The mixture should resemble coarse bread crumbs. Press onto the bottom of a lightly greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat until mixed well:

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice (approx. 2 juicy lemons)
1 tsp. baking powder

Pour the mixture over pre-baked crust; sprinkle 3/4 cup flaked coconut evenly over the top. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Invert and cut into bars.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (6-8 servings)

Beat together in a large bowl 3 eggs and 1 cup packed brown sugar. Add to eggs and sugar mixture: 2 cups packed, finely shredded unpeeled zucchini; 3/4 cup sour cream; 1/2 cup shopped walnuts or pecans; 1/2 cup vegetable oil; 1 tsp. orange zest, grated; 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl mix together: 2 cups all purpose-flour; 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa; 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. cinnamon. Blend into the zucchini batter.

Pour batter into greased and lightly floured 13x9" (32x22 cm) cake pan. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 35 min. When cake cools, dust with icing sugar or frost with chocolate glaze (recipe below), if desired.

Chocolate glaze (version 1):
In a saucepan oven low heat, melt 2 tbsp. butter and 2 ounces (50gr) unsweetened chocolate. Wisk in: 1 1/4 cups icing sugar; 1 egg; 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.

Chocolate glaze (version 2):
150 gr icing sugar, 2 tbsp. cacao powder, 3 tbsp. hot water, 2 tbsp. melted butter.

Chocolate glaze (version 3):
melt together 1/3 cup butter and 4 ounces chocolate, add 2 cups icing sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Mix well.

Crazy Cake! (A special treat for chocolate lovers!)

In a small saucepan melt 6 tbsp. butter. In a bowl sift together: 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1/2 cup white sugar; 3 tbsp. pure cocoa; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1 tsp. salt. Add the melted butter to the dry ingredients. In a cup or little bowl combine: 1 cup water; 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Add the vanilla water to the batter. Combine well. Mix in 1 tbsp. white vinegar (cider, white wine or rice).

Pour the batter into the form and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 30 min.

Pears Marsala

Slice some pears. Put into a preheated saute pan with a little bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with a touch of sugar. Leave them to start caramelizing. Do not move them around or shake the pan. When the pears turn golden brown on one side, turn them over. Pour in some Marsala wine and let it evaporate and reduce, until the sauce looks syrupy. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, with a helping of whipped cream or ice cream, or just plain.

Dried Fruit Balls (This is a delicious Maroccan-style dessert. It requires no baking and can be prepared in advance!)

1 1/2 cup biscuit crumbs (to make crumbs, place biscuits in a zipper bag and roll with a rolling pin or bash with a meat tenderizer. Or you can use a food processor, but in my experience, food processor doesn’t make uniform crumbs),
1 cup finely chopped nuts (you can use pecans, walnuts, almonds or any other kind of nuts),
1-2 tablespoons finelly grated lemon zest (orange or tangerine zest can be substituted),
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the crumb mixture very well.

In a separate bowl place about 600 grams of dried fruit of your choice (dates, figs, apricots, prunes, dried berries, raisins). The best way is to combine three or four different fruits. If the fruit is very dry, cover with hot water, let stand for 5 minutes or so, and drain. Chop in a food processor until it becomes a uniform paste. Mix in with the crumb mixture until well incorporated and uniform (this is best done by hand!).

Add 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2-3 tablespoons of very strong black coffee (cold liquid). Mix in well. If the mixture is too sweet, add more lemon juice. Cover and chill in a refridgerator for an hour or so.

Roll out small balls (about an inch in diameter), and chill again.

Roll to cover in finely chopped slivered almonds, walnut chunks, shredded coconut or sesame seed.

Chill again and ENJOY!