These delicious and decadent cupcakes are a combination of our best version of cannoli cream filling along with an orange zest & vanilla gluten-free cupcake, topped with chocolate ganache, cannoli cream, sliced almonds & citron. Anyone saying gluten-free is flat & tasteless hasn't tasted these. The taste is amazing...and they are easy to make. If you're a cannoli fan, you will love these cupcakes.😋 😋
Anyone who knows Barbara knows she's a cannoli snob! She compares every cannoli she tastes to her favorite Italian Bakery in Lindenhurst, New York (including the cannoli we had in Italy). There are so many versions of cannolis throughout Italy and every Italian neighborhood throughout the United States that it would be impossible to choose which one is best... So, we set out to incorporate the best of all the cannolis we've ever tried and are so happy to share our best version with you. ❤️❤️
4½ lbs whole milk ricotta (drained overnight to remove all excess liquid)
1½ lbs granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 drops cinnamon oil (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon)
1/4 cup citron, diced
1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced
4 oz semi-sweet Mini chocolate chips (may substitute with bittersweet chips, depending on your preference.)
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, place the drained ricotta cheese into the mixing bowl, mix the cheese on lowest speed to combine and smooth.
Add granulated sugar and allow to mix in until dissolved completely. The texture should be smooth, not grainy.
Add the vanilla & cinnamon oil.
Mix until incorporated. Do not overmix.
Gently fold in the citron, candied orange and mini chocolate chips.
Place in a pastry bag and refrigerate until ready to pipe into cannolis & serve.
Before piping, cut the tip of the pastry bag large enough to allow the chips to pass through.
Notes: If using ground cinnamon, your cannoli filling will not be white.
Do not fill cannoli’s until ready to serve or your shells will be soggy.
Cannoli Cream Filling can also be used for cakes, cupcakes, and as a pastry filling.
We are so excited to share our all-time family favorite Easter dessert with you, Pastiera Napoletana or Easter Grain Pie, also known as Pizza Grano. During our trip to Italy last year, at a farmhouse dinner in Naples, we had a wonderful dessert at the end of our meal. As soon as we tasted it we thought it was just like Grandma Florence & Mom used to make! That unique flavor was such a wonderful memory for us. After Grandma and Mom passed away, the only time we could enjoy Pastiera Napoletana was to buy it at the Italian bakery during Easter time. We searched high & low throughout all of our recipe folders & boxes for their recipe but never found it. Then while gathering our recipes for this blog, we discovered that Teresa's daughter Tracy had it, or should I say had all 3 versions of the same recipe... Mom's handwriting and instructions made it somewhat challenging to decipher. Our first bite took us back in time...we nailed it! Don't be intimidated by the many steps to this recipe. We know it seems like a lot of work but if you break it down as we recommend, it's not difficult. If you're looking to add to your holiday traditions, this recipe is well worth it! Happy Easter 🐰 🐰
In a 6 qt pot, add the jar of Grano Cotto, milk and butter. Cook on the lowest heat setting of your stove for about 2 -4 hours. Stir frequently to avoid burning bottom. Do not let the milk curdle. The mixture should be thick & creamy and the grain extremely soft. (On the lowest burner setting it was still too hot so we put an additional stove grill on top of the cooking burner and it was just right to prevent the milk from curdling, see pictures below.)
Add additional milk if it dries out before the grains are soft.
Once the grain mixture is done, pour in a bowl and cool. Once cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Day 2 – Make the Dough
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, vanilla, salt, sugar and orange zest. Mix to combine well.
Add the cold butter, shortening and mix until it looks combined. You should see little pieces of butter & shortening not mixed throughout.
Add the eggs and mix until the dough starts to come together.
While the mixer is still running, add 1 Tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough starts to form a ball.
Dump out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a round ball then cut into 2 equal portions.
Roll each piece into a round ball until smooth. Cut 1/3 off each dough ball (use a scale to weigh each for accuracy). You should end up with 2 large dough balls and 2 small dough balls. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap then slightly flatten into a disk. Refrigerate for about an hour.
Day 2 – Make Part 2 of the Grain Filling (Ricotta Filling)
Using the whisk attachment, place the drained ricotta into the large bowl of your standing mixer. Add the sugar and eggs. Whisk until smooth, a few minutes on the low setting.
Add the cooled grain mixture and continue to mix a few minutes until well incorporated.
Lastly, add the citron, cinnamon, and Fiori di Sicilia. Mix on low until blended. Set aside until ready to fill pie pan.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter two 9-inch metal pie pans and set aside.
Work with one of the larger dough balls at a time and roll out onto a floured surface to about 12 inches round. Place over one of the metal pie pans; make sure the dough is hanging over the pan edge.
Fill the dough with half of the grain & ricotta filling but do not overfill. The filling should be about 1/2 inch below pan ridge. The filling rises quite a bit during baking.
Lightly apply water around the rim of the pie dough. This will seal the dough to the strips in the next step.
Using the small balls of dough, roll out onto a floured surface then cut strips about 1 inch wide. Lay them across diagonally to form a diamond pattern.
Using the overhanging dough, pull up & over the strips & press to seal. Place completed pie on a large baking sheet and repeat the same process for the second pie.
Bake approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or a little longer. The filling should be set, not jiggle. The crust should be golden brown. If the edges brown faster than the top, cover edges with foil.
When done, remove from oven and let pies cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
Day 3 – Remove pie from the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a great cup of coffee or espresso.
Notes: Don’t overfill the pie pan as depicted below. Teresa got a little carried away forgetting we had another pie pan to fill.🤦🏻♀️
Must be room temperature before refrigerating.
Place strips on the diagonal
Out of the oven
Put in the oven
Doubling up on grill to keep a really low flame to prevent milk from curdling.
Grill is doubled.
Grill doubled up so lowest flame is perfect to not curdling milk.
Pupa Cu L'ova means Eggs in a basket in Italian and is a traditional Easter breakfast enjoyed by children & adults throughout Italy. One of our fondest memories of Easter morning (besides getting chocolate filled baskets from the Easter Bunny) is eating these delicious Eggs in a Basket for breakfast. Every Easter our mom and her sister (Aunt Sally) would bake these delicious treats while we all looked forward to eating them. Our parents enjoyed them over their morning coffee while we enjoyed them with a glass of milk. Traditionally this scone type muffin is made with anise flavoring but our children preferred vanilla flavoring with our secret ingredient, Fiori di Sicilia. Your family will love these for breakfast.
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetend or unsweetend depending on your taste)
green food coloring
12 colored eggs (raw for medium cooked eggs or partially cook 3 minutes in hot water for hard-cooked egg )
colored sprinkles or nonpareils
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
Cut butter & shortening into the flour mixture by hand until crumbly (a stand mixer can also be used).
In a medium bowl mix eggs, 1/4 cup milk and flavorings.
Make a well in the flour mixture and add the egg mixture.
Mix until dough is smooth and can form into a ball.
Roll out on a very lightly floured silicone baking pad or board to about 1/2-inch thickness.
Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut 12 rounds of dough.
Cut 24 1/2-inch wide strips to form an X or criss-cross over each muffin cup.
Press gently into a lightly buttered muffin tin. Carefully press dough to the inside of each muffin cup.
With a small fork, pierce the bottom of each cup.
Place 1 colored egg into each cup, wide side down.
Take 2 strips for each muffin and criss-cross over the egg, pinching onto the edge of the basket. Make sure you get the egg as straight as possible as they may shift in baking.
Bake at 375º F for 22 minutes until lightly browned.
When lightly browned, remove from oven and place muffin tin on a cooling rack. Let cool about 1 hour then remove from tin and continue cooling on rack.
Put shredded coconut and 20 drops of green food coloring into a large plastic storage bag. Shake well until the desired color is achieved.
In a small saucepan whisk the confectioner’s powdered sugar with 2 Tablespoons milk and 2-3 drops of Fiori di Sicilia flavoring. Heat on very low stove setting until mixture just starts turning warm. The icing cannot be reheated if it turns hard so work quickly. Immediately use a small pastry brush, paint the icing onto the basket strips then dip in colored sprinkles.
Take a pastry brush and paint the basket perimeter with icing, then using a small spoon, add the green shredded coconut and pat lightly, making sure to cover well. Gently shake excess coconut off.
Serve the day you make these, just after decorating.
Notes: The baked texture should be similar to scones. The colored raw egg will have a cooked, soft yoke but not runny when baked for 22 minutes. Easter Egg Baskets are best served right after decorating while the egg is still warm.
If you won’t be serving the same day, refrigerate and allow to reach room temperature before serving.
Cut in butter & shortening
Hand mix after butter & shortenin g are combined
Combine eggs, milk & flavorings
Add egg mixture to flour mixture
Roll out dough to 1/2″ thickness
Cut strips for handles
Place round dough into muffin tine
Place strips forming criss-cross over raw colored eggs
Add 10-20 drops green food coloring to unsweetened shredded coconut
Slow Cooker Spare Ribs with Hickory & Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce
OMG! Who knew a slow cooker, some spare ribs and barbecue sauce could taste like Heaven? The meat is so tender it falls right off the bone. Our whole family agrees these are the best spare ribs you will ever eat!😋
3 lbs. spare ribs ( I use St. Louis style spare ribs from Costco, 2 sets of ribs are about 6 lbs total)
When we were kids my least favorite meal (besides liver) was beef stew. I hated it and Teresa liked it. On a recent trip back to Long Island, my daughter Jennifer made a batch of beef stew which I tasted just to be polite. I was pleasantly surprised. There were so many wonderful flavors that I ate the whole bowl! Her secret was the beef bone broth, Isabella wine & thyme. I have used beef bone broth in the past; however, none compare as well to the Epic brand made from grass-fed beef. Serve with buttered Italian bread, over creamy mashed potatoes, rice or egg noodles. You won't need a knife to cut your meat, it's extremely tender, juicy, and delicious!
4 russet potatoes, quartered then cut into small bite size pieces
1½ tsp dried thyme leaves
2 tsp parsley (dried or frozen cubes)
1 bag frozen peas, thawed (optional)
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour to thicken gravy
Pre-heat oven to 325ºF.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1½ tsp sea salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Mix together then add the stew meat a little at a time to coat all sides well.
In a large dutch oven, heat bacon grease over medium heat until hot. Transfer meat in 2-3 batches, into the hot bacon fat. Cook 3 minutes on each side until browned. Add EVOO if needed. Set meat aside in a bowl.
Pour 1 cup red wine into the dutch oven to deglaze and bring to a boil, scraping bottom well to get all the meat bits mixed in.
Add the mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a separate large skillet on medium-high heat, add 2 Tablespoons EVOO. Add carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic. Sauté approximately 4 minutes.
Add 1 Tablespoon flour and mix constantly for 1-2 minutes. (If a thicker gravy is Preferred, add 2 Tablespoons flour instead of 1.)
Add 2 Tablespoons tomato paste.
Sauté 1-2 minutes longer.
Transfer the vegetables to the dutch oven. Add the 2 bottles of beef bone broth, 2 bay leaves, dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Return the beef (and bacon if you cooked bacon), to the pot and stir to combine.
Cover dutch oven with lid and bake in a 325ºF oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Add thawed peas and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
Notes: I always have bacon fat on hand in the refrigerator. Once I cook the bacon I drain the fat into a small pyrex dish then store covered in the refrigerator.
Beef broth may be substituted for Beef bone broth.
Did you ever have a cranberry orange Duncan Donuts muffin? If you did then you know they are absolutely amazing! We always loved to get these muffins with a cup of coffee while out shopping together. It became the highlight of our shopping excursions. We are proud to say we achieved that same moist & flavorful combination in our Twiins Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake. No need to wait for a special occasion. Make this bundt cake anytime and it will disappear in the blink of an eye (especially if Jack is nearby)! This is another example of how baking gluten-free is just as delicious in taste and texture as traditional flour is. ❤️❤️
2¾ cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour
2 Tablespoons Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour (for cranberry coating to prevent cranberries from sinking to the bottom)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt, pink Himalayan
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons orange zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup sour cream (we use Daisy)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries (roll in 2 Tablespoons of the flour above to coat prior to folding into the cake mixture, no need to thaw frozen)
Powdered sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2¾ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer beat the butter & sugar until light & fluffy.
Add 1 egg at a time then mix in vanilla.
On low speed, mix in orange zest then slowly add orange juice and the oil until well blended.
Slowly mix in 1/2 cup at a time, the dry ingredients from step 1 above, alternate with sour cream and finish with the dry ingredients.
Continue to mix on low, scraping bowl as needed until just combined. Do not overmix.
Add the flour-coated cranberries and gently fold them into the batter.
Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with cooking spray or grease with butter & flour.
Pour batter into bundt pan and bake 50-65 minutes depending on your oven. Test with a toothpick. Toothpick should come out clean.
Remove from oven. Let sit about 30 minutes then remove and continue to cool on wire rack.
Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar when completely cooled.
Serve and enjoy!
Serving Suggestions: Enjoy plain or top each slice with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream, gelato or a dollop of whipped cream.
Stuffed Mushrooms Alla Grandma Florence, Gluten-Free
One of the dishes we missed most at the holidays was Grandma Florence's stuffed mushrooms. Wow were they delizioso! 😋 We are excited we nailed it as they taste just like Grandma's did. We're happy to share it with you and hope you enjoy them as much as our family does. These can be served as appetizers, a side dish to a roast, chicken, veal or pasta or a main dish if using large Portobello mushrooms.