Although their French neighbors are more renowned for having a deft touch with pastry, the Italians have come up with a surprising number of winning desserts over the years: tiramisu, crostatas, gelato, panna cotta, biscotti, cannoli, zabaglione, semifreddo, tartufo. So, pick your poison and submit your best Italian sweet!
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Starting at the top: saffron, egg yolk, hazelnuts, heavy cream, cardamom, lemon, sugar, dried cherries, white wine, honey and sweet vermouth.
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Saffron messing up the yolks' clean and tidy look.
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First we began with the semifreddo base, whisking together the yolks, sugar and saffron.
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Next, Merrill whipped the mixture over a double boiler -- a good workout, if you're looking for one.
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This is the consistency you're looking for -- it gets elastic and sticky.
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To make the cherry sauce, you combine dried cherries, sugar, toasted cardamom, wine, and lemon juice in a pan, then boil it down to a syrup. (To toast cardamom, a step we resisted but were later glad to have done, we spread the ground spice in a small pan and placed it over medium-low heat until we could smell the cardamom.)
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In goes the wine.
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Brenna warns you that the egg yolk mixture will be sticky but we didn't expect it to be this sticky. Here, we ponder starting over, but then decide we'll forge ahead, and we're glad we did because the mixture loosened as soon as vermouth was added.
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See just how sticky it was!
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Here, sweet vermouth performs its magic.
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Whipped cream -- what's not to love!
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Merrill folds the cream and yolk mixtures together.
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You'll probably use 4 ramekins of the same size and color -- here, we've given ourselves 4 alternative dishes for the finished dish photo. Which one will it be?
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Freezer time: yes, Amanda likes to mix her chocolate and mint ice creams. And no, that frozen pink lemonade isn't something she'd usually buy -- it was for a recipe test for the Times. And lechef, that's your Zesty Herbed Chicken Broth on the right, beneath the pie doughs.
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The hazelnuts, dressed with olive oil, honey and salt, before toasting in the oven.
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