welcome to Roma!!!

I am finally here!!! I got here two days ago, and am all settled into my wonderful apartment, and starting to find my way around Rome. My Italian language skills are rudimentary at best, but so far I have been able to get by. I’ve also realized that my dad’s Hindi is a much more powerful tool here than my Italian – every vendor we have come across thus far has hailed from the Subcontinent. The big market, which is right near my apartment, is called the Campo di Fiori, and it is just full of my countrymen (or neighbors of my countrymen, rather) selling their authentic Italian spice blends and produce proudly.

I haven’t had a chance to take too many pictures yet, so I’ll just post a couple and get more on here soon!

Tomatoes and other vegetables for sale at the Campo di Fiori!

One of the many street artists on the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere

Delicious tiramisu from Galeassi in Trastevere

I will post more soon!

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pecan torte with maple whipped cream

This torte may be one of my new favorite desserts. I like pecans as much as the next person, but prior to tasting this, I thought that this torte was only for the folks who have a serious love thing going on with those funnily-named nuts. This recipe was requested by one such person, and I’m so glad because, although this torte consists of very few ingredients, it is delightful and light and really needs no accompaniment.

It puffs up gloriously in the oven, just like a souffle, and then sinks back down once it begins to cool, immediately alleviating my concerns that I had accidentally made a giant 5-inch tall cake. Just like with a souffle, preparing the batter takes a little bit of patience, at least for me. “Folding” in egg whites is a very stressful task when coupled with my impatience, and I have to work very hard to resist the urge to just mix everything together in order to speed the process along. Resist the urge – it will be worth it.

Now for the whipped cream. I’m sure everyone has heard of/played word association games, like where someone says a word and then you say the word that immediately comes to mind in response. Well, I didn’t want to just make plain sweetened whipped cream, so I stared at the bag of pecans for a few seconds and immediately thought of maple syrup. I can’t help but associate pecans and maple, it is one of the best combinations in my opinion. So the whipped cream had to be sweetened slightly with maple syrup, instead of regular sugar. Major improvement.

Serve this for dessert, as a snack with coffee, or even as part of breakfast/brunch!

I also submitted this to Bake with Bizzy!

Pecan Torte Recipe (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. Line the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

Combine the pecans, flour and salt in a food processor until finely ground; set aside.

Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar until pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, fold in the pecan mixture and set aside.

Be sure to completely wash and dry the bowl and mixer attachments, and use the mixer to beat the egg whites until foamy. Add roughly 1/3 of the remaining sugar, and continue to beat egg whites until opaque. Then add approximately 1/3 more of the sugar. Continue beating until egg whites begin to form soft peaks, add remaining sugar, and beat until soft peaks are fully formed. Fold the egg whites gently into the egg yolk-pecan mixture. Folding in the egg whites too soon will deflate the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until cake is lightly browned and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Run a butter knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the edges, and carefully transfer cake from pan to serving platter. Serve plain or with whipped cream.

Maple Whipped Cream Recipe

  • 1 half-pint Heavy Cream
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup

The cream will whip better if you chill the bowl and beaters in the fridge before preparing the cream, so that everything is as cold as possible.

Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the maple syrup and continue whipping until cream reaches desired consistency. Either serve immediately or chill until serving.

baked chocolate donuts

I have a confession. I’m not a huge donut fan. I don’t mean that I do not like huge donuts, although I suppose I don’t.  But also, I do not like normal-sized donuts. I think its because, when I was younger, during our road trips, we would stop at Krispy Kreme a lot, back when it was a rare treat and a novelty, before they began to appear at every mall in the form of some fundraiser or the other. I get carsick really quickly, so I began to associate donuts with feeling nauseous (through no fault of their own) and hence the donut-aversion.

I don’t, however, have any aversions to cake. Nor do I have the ability to resist really cute cake pans. Especially pans that cost less than $10 and, thanks to my student Amazon Prime membership, promise to be at my door in two days. As if that weren’t wonderful enough, these super cute donut shaped pans also come in a mini size!

Traditionally, donuts are fried, so I’m not sure that I can really call these donuts, but I think that if you, unlike me, found yourself craving a donut, these would do the trick. I know that there are recipes out there designed specifically for baked donuts, to give them a more true donut-like texture, but for these I just used chocolate cake batter. I’ve now used the word “donut” so much that it has lost all meaning.

I made these for my little sister’s birthday party this past weekend, and although they didn’t receive overwhelming verbal enthusiasm (because that is desperately uncool when you are a teenage girl), they were gone pretty quickly, so I can only assume they were acceptable to the discerning palettes of my sister and her friends.

I topped these donuts with a simple homemade chocolate ganache, and a few sprinkles to brighten things up, but because the donuts themselves are really cake, anything that you would top a cake with is fair game as far as decorating these goes. For the base, just use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, or, better yet, brownie recipe. Next time I make these, I’m definitely going to try using a brownie base, for a denser, fudgier donut.

For the base, use your favorite chocolate cake/brownie recipe!

The baking time for the larger donuts was around 5-6 minutes, and for the smaller donuts the baking time was around 3 minutes.

Ganache recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a double boiler and stir until completely smooth and melted. Remove from heat and top each donut with desired amount of ganache. Add any desired sprinkles or decorations.