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Delizia al Limone

Delizia al limone is one of those desserts I can’t resist when I see it on a menu. Occasionally, I’ll spot it at the pastry counter of D’Angelo’s — an Italian specialty food store here in Princeton, N.J. But otherwise, it’s not easy to find, even at Italian restaurants in New York City. It’s such a regional dessert that even in Italy, you’re not likely to see it unless you’re in Naples or other towns in the Campania region of Italy, where lemon trees are as commonplace as a handsome ragazzo on a Vespa. I’ve been wanting to try for years to make it home but never got around to it until recently. Once you try it, you’ll see why it’s such a beloved dessert in Southern Italy — a sponge cake soaked with a limoncello syrup, stuffed with a lemon cream, then covered with a thinned-out drizzle of lemon cream. It’s so lemony and irresistible, but to be frank, it’s very laborious to make.

I followed a recipe on Manu’s Menu. You need to have these semi-spherical molds to achieve the proper look of the Delizie. This recipe made only enough for eight little “cakelets” — not nearly enough for all the work required, in my opinion. If I make it again (a big “if”), I would double the recipe for the sponge cakes.

I would also take a few shortcuts – like buying lemon curd rather than making it from scratch. Same goes for the lemon crema pasticcera. So much can go wrong as you’re making either of these two ingredients, including curdling (which didn’t happen to me, since I stood over the pot stirring constantly, but easily could have.) Instead, I would use a package of instant vanilla pudding, flavored with lemon juice and lemon peel, and add some homemade whipped cream to the pudding to create the lemon crema pasticcera.

There were so many steps to follow, so many bowls and pots to wash, that this recipe became a half-day project. Have I discouraged you completely? Well, I hope not, especially if you take the short cuts I suggested.

My friends in the weekly Italian chit-chat group loved these little lemon delights. If you’re like me and love lemon desserts, maybe you’ll give it a try. You’ll feel like you’re back in Capri – before the Coronavirus hit. Wash your hands and stay safe everyone.

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Delizia al Limone
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • SPONGE (CAKE)
  • 150 gms – 3 large eggs divided
  • 90 gms – ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 40 gms – 1 ½ oz. all-purpose flour
  • 25 gms – 8 tsp cornstarch
  • 25 gms – ¼ cup almond meal
  • ½ lemon peel grated
  • ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 pinch salt
  • LEMON CREAM
  • 40 gms – 2 egg yolks
  • 40 gms – 1 ½ oz. sugar
  • 1 or 2 lemons
  • 40 gms – 1 ½ oz. butter
  • LEMON CREMA PASTICCERA
  • 180 gms – ¾ cup milk
  • 80 gms + 30 gms – 3 oz. + 1 oz. cream
  • 80 gms – 4 egg yolks
  • 60 gms – ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 15 gms – 5 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 lemon
  • ⅓ vanilla pod
  • LIMONCELLO SYRUP
  • 30 gms – 1 oz.water
  • 30 gms – 1 oz. granulated sugar
  • 50 gms – 1 ¾ oz. Limoncello
  • ½ lemon
  • GLAZE
  • Remaining Lemon Cream
  • Remaining Lemon Crema Pasticcera
  • 60 gms – ⅓ cup milk
  • 125 gms– ½ cup cream whipped and lightly sweetned
  • 30 gms – 1 oz. Limoncello
Instructions
  1. SPONGE (cake)
  2. Beat the egg yolks with 40 gms – 1 ½ oz. of the sugar, grated lemon peel and scraped vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the almond meal and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar and a pinch of salt.
  5. Mix together the cornstarch and flour and then sift it into the egg yolk mixture, alternating with additions of the beaten egg whites.
  6. Make sure to fold these in gently, so as not to deflate them.
  7. Grease and coat with flour some semisphere tins and fill them till ¾ with the batter.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170°C – 340°F for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  9. When ready, unmould them and keep them on a wire rack to cool down.
  10. LEMON CREAM
  11. Grate the peel of the lemon and then juice it.
  12. Put the grated peel in a bowl with the lemon juice and keep it to infuse for 20 minutes.
  13. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and then add 40 gms – 1 ½ oz. of the lemon juice and grated peel.
  14. Keep mixing.
  15. Put this mixture on a slow flame and cook it, while continuously stirring, until it reaches 80°C – 176°F.
  16. Then remove from the fire and put the pot in a double boiler filled with cold water. Blend it with a stick mixer until smooth.
  17. Let it cool down to 50°C – 122°F, then add the chopped butter and keep blending until smooth.
  18. Cover it with cling wrap (make sure that the cling wrap touches the surface of the cream so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate it until completely cold.
  19. LEMON CREMA PASTICCERA
  20. In a pot put the milk, cream, lemon peel, and scraped vanilla bean and bring to a boil.
  21. Then put the fire off, let it infuse for 1 hour and then filter it.
  22. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstach and salt until pale.
  23. Then slowly add the filtered milk.
  24. Cook this mixture until it reaches 82°C – 180°F, then cover the cream with cling wrap (make sure that the cling wrap touches the surface of the cream so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate it until completely cold.
  25. LIMONCELLO SYRUP
  26. Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the lemon peel.
  27. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Put the fire off and let it get back to room temperature. Then filter it and add the Limoncello.
  28. ASSEMBLING
  29. Mix together the Lemon Cream and the Lemon Crema Pasticcera (make sure they are both cold). Add 30 gms – 1 oz. of Limoncello and 30 gms – 1 oz. of sweetened whipped cream and mix well.
  30. Put this cream in a piping bag and fill the sponge cakes by making a little hole at the bottom (you can use a knife to make the hole and then pipe in the cream).
  31. Try and fill them as much as possible. Reserve the remaining cream.
  32. Using a toothpick, prick the sponges on all sides and brush them with the Limoncello syrup.
  33. To the remaining cream, add 125 gms – ½ cup of sweetend whipped cream and 60 gms – ⅓ cup of milk to make the thick glaze.
  34. Cover the delizie with the glaze and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
  35. When ready to serve, decorate with some whipped cream and lemon zests.
 

 

Lemon Chicken With Olives and Capers

So many of our dinners come about simply because of grocery items that have been lingering too long in my refrigerator and need using before they go bad. Such was the case here, where I had some olives nearing their toss out point, and a bag of lemons that I’d never get through unless I whipped up lemon meringue pies for the whole neighborhood. Now, I do cook for my neighbors from time to time but in this case, I wanted something savory and less caloric for dinner, and something that included those lemons and olives.

This recipe, adapted from one I found in Food and Wine’s website, by Lidia Bastianich, fit the bill perfectly. I halved the amount of chicken, to serve only two people, but since I wanted more sauce, I kept the proportions for the sauce ingredients as if I were preparing the recipe with a larger amount of chicken. To see the original recipe, click here.

The original recipe asks you to drizzle the lemon slices with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees, but to get that browned edge, I found that broiling them works best. Keep a close watch on them so they don’t burn. I didn’t bother with the salt, pepper or olive oil either, because there is plenty of seasoning in the recipe itself.

DO NOT buy thin chicken breast slices for this recipe. They’ll cook too quickly and dry out. Buy a boneless chicken breast. It will be too lumpy and uneven to cook as is, so you’ll need to slice through the thickest part to open it up and make it flatter, pounding a bit with a food mallet (the flat side, not the spiky side). Season with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour.

Cook the chicken pieces in olive oil at high heat for a few minutes until they’re golden, flipping once, to brown the other side.

Make the sauce while the chicken is in the pan, adding the chicken broth, olives, capers, the lemon slices and the rest of the ingredients.

The original recipe doesn’t call for it, but I added some lemon juice at the end as well, to give it a really fresh taste, and increase the amount of sauce.

It’s a dish that’s fairly easy to prepare and good enough to impress company too.

When you slice into it, the meat is still juicy and tender, and picks up all those flavors that blend so well together. This was a recipe I’ll be making again and again, and next time I won’t wait until I have leftover olives and lemons sitting around.

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Lemon Chicken With Olives and Capers
 
Author:
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 lemon, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • Two 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • ¼ cup pitted olives, sliced (I used Kalamata olives, but you could use green olives as well)
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • ¾ cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small dice
  • 1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer.
  3. Broil for about five minutes, keeping a close eye on the lemons so they don't burn.
  4. Remove from the broiler when the lemons begin to brown around the edges.
  5. In a deep medium skillet, heat ¼ cup of oil.
  6. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with the flour, shaking off the excess.
  7. Cook the chicken over high heat, turning once, until golden, about 6 minutes.
  8. Add the olives, capers and stock and bring to a boil.
  9. Cook over high heat until the stock is reduced by about two-thirds, about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the roasted lemons, the lemon juice, butter and parsley, season with salt and pepper and simmer just until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute.
  11. Transfer the chicken to plates and spoon the sauce on top.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Tiramisu

This is a party-perfect recipe that looks like you slaved for hours – but you don’t even have to turn on the oven. It’s all made with purchased savoiardi biscuits – kind of like ladyfingers but crispy and hard with a coating of sugar. After a soaking, they’re as tender as a sponge cake. The recipe is elegant and luscious. And it all comes together in about 10 minutes.

My cousin Lucia made this for us on our recent visit to Italy. She’s the cousin who won the “Miss Tagliatella” contest in her region. I kid you not. So you can be sure she knows her way around the kitchen. One of these days, I’ll make a video of her making pasta and then we’ll both know the secret of her success.

For now, you’ll have to be content with her lemon tiramisu. It was delicious all by itself but I thought I’d add the raspberry sauce to jazz it up a bit and add some color.

Lemon Tiramisu

24 savoiardi biscuits
juice of two to three lemons

8 oz. mascarpone cheese
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
grated rind of one large lemon

Mix together the mascarpone, ricotta, sugar and lemon rind.

Line a meat loaf pan with plastic wrap. Dip 8 savoiardi biscuits (on both sides) in the lemon juice and place along the bottom, squeezing to fit. Cover with half of the cheese mixture. Repeat with another level of savoiardi, then the other half of the cheese mixture. Finish with a layer of savoiardi. Wrap tightly and refrigerate a minimum of four hours; preferably overnight.

Flip over, remove plastic wrap and serve with raspberry sauce if desired.

Raspberry Sauce

10 or 12 ounce package of frozen raspberries
2 T. water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Bring the raspberries, water and sugar to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Put through a strainer, add the lemon juice and refrigerate.