This dessert resembles a lot of simple fruit desserts that you come across on menus at various restaurants in Italy. One thing you'll notice as you travel (and eat) your way across Italy is that the majority of Italian desserts are easy to make, not too sweet, and very delicious. You'll often come across some sort of simple baked fruit dessert in almost every season and this is our modern take on that idea.
If we had to give this dessert a place of origin, we'd pinpoint it as the Northern Italian region of Lombardy. We've spent a fair amount of time there in the last few years as we've lead our Italy group trips and worked on various projects from Milan to Lake Garda.
While there we've fallen in love with the local flavors from classic dishes to iconic local ingredients like Grana Padano cheese, Arborio rice, Mascarpone cheese, and Amaretti di Saronno cookies, the last two which we use in this recipe.
If you've had Mascarpone cheese before, you know that it's like Italy's answer to American cream cheese. However, it tends to be softer, creamier, and a little less tangy than what we have stateside.
The exact origin story of this cheese in unclear but it has been made for centuries in the Po Valley area between Milan and Pavia. We like to use it in all sort of recipes from this dessert to our tiramisu and even these Fennel Puff Pastry Bites.
There are all sorts of Italian cookies from biscotti to sbrisolona but one of the most popular commercially-made cookies is Amaretti. Made with a dough of almond paste, sugar, egg whites, sweet almonds and apricot kernels, these cookies are classic (and gluten free)!
You'll find a soft version of Amaretti cookies made in Southern Italy but the kind we use in this recipe are from the Northern town of Saronno (just outside Milan), hence the name Amaretti di Saronno. Thanks to their sweet, intensely almond, and ever so slightly bitter flavor, these cookies find their way in all sorts of recipes from traditional pasta to this dessert.
One of the most famous types are from the Saronno cloister, an ancient Franciscan cloister in the center of the Northern town of Saronno. We like the lemon ones in this recipe as they add another layer of flavor but the traditional ones are delicious too.
We created this recipe as a part of a menu for a late summer cooking class, which is why we used stone fruit.
But you can alter it to the seasons as desired! In early Fall, add in figs. You can also make it with pears or apples but you'll want to bake them at 350°F until soft (about 15 minutes) instead of broiling them. You could also make it with citrus that you broil in the midwinter or even just fresh berries in the Spring.
We have all sorts of Italian recipes on the site but here are a few desserts inspired by Italy that we love:
Okay, now it's time to stock up your panty with all the Italian essential ingredients, then try your hand at baking this and then share your creation with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!
halved and seeds removed or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
plus more for garnish
, nectarines, plums, pluots, apricots or other stone fruit
Make The Rosemary Honey: Combine the 2/3 cup of the honey with 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring it to a simmer then set it aside to infuse the honey with the rosemary while you make the whipped mascarpone.
The rosemary honey can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Store at room temperature in an airtight container until ready to use.
To Make The Whipped Mascarpone: Place the 8 ounces of the Mascarpone cheese in a mixing bowl and whip with a balloon whisk (aka a whip) until it's evenly smooth and whipped. Add in the vanilla beans seeds (or vanilla bean paste or extract) as well as a pinch of the flaky sea salt, and 1/4 cup of the infused honey (it's great if some of the rosemary leaves get in there too). Whisk the mixture until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Add the 1 cup of heavy cream and whisk until the mixture becomes light and airy and resembles whipped cream cheese frosting (it will not be as airy and light as cream that is whipped on its own FYI). Taste and add more salt or honey as desired.
The whipped Mascarpone can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Store at refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
To Broil The Stone Fruit: Halve all the stone fruit and remove the pits. Toss the fruit in a bowl with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil, a pinch of the salt, the juice of 1/2 orange (if using).
Turn the oven on to broil and arrange a rack in the upper third. Place the stone fruit cut side up in a pie plate or other heatproof baking dish then broil the fruit, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn, until it is soft, charred, and juicy, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes total.
To Serve The Broiled Fruit: Place a large spoonful of the whipped Mascarpone on a dessert plate then arrange 4 to 6 pieces of fruit on top, spoon over any juice in the baking dish then crumble one amaretti cookie on top and serve immediately.
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