Got Panettone? If you have Italian friends, then I bet your answer is a resounding yes because some of those friends must have given you some panettone as a Christmas gift. As good as it is right out of its pretty box, or toasted with a bit of butter at breakfast time, at my house there are always entire loaves that remain unopened once Christmas is over.
Panettone is delightful in desserts such as Bread Pudding and brunch fare like French Toast. On the savory side, the candied orange peel and raisin flavors of this classic sweet yeast bread make a wonderfully satisfying panino when paired with juicy ham and a tasty cheese, but have you ever tried a Coppette alla Crema di Ricotta? Each bite is a sweet mouthful of liqueur-soaked panettone with fruit and nut-studded ricotta cream. It’s English Trifle done with Italian style.
This dessert affords the perfect opportunity to introduce you, Dear Reader, to Biscotti Famosi, an amber elixir made by Faretti in Northern Italy. The liqueur starts with a vodka base and the first flavors are of toasted almonds, caramel, orange, and lemon zest followed by a surprisingly long finish tasting of pure fennel. It is a real delight, one that I call “biscotti in a bottle.” With a rich, almost creamy mouthfeel, this exquisite liqueur could be dessert all on its own, but with the cubed panettone and “cannoli cream” it lifts “leftovers” to the realm of the sublime.
It’s hard to know which is the star of this dessert – the panettone or the Biscotti Famosi liqueur. This elegantly balanced liqueur is the perfect complement to the classic panettone flavor profile. Serve a glass of Biscotti Famosi with the coppette.
The truth is all that leftover panettone will not last until next Christmas. Make this one soon.
Coppette alla Crema di Ricotta
If you have no Biscotti Famosi, the Italian liqueur palette has much to offer in the way of substitutions. Amaretto, with its almond notes, and Frangelico, redolent of hazelnuts, are two of Italy’s most familiar sweet spirits, and either would be wonderful here. If pistachios are your pleasure, try Dumante Verdenoce, a pistachio liqueur. Make this one your own, and exchange the nuts to match the liqueur you select.
14 ounces fresh ricotta
3-4 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts, divided
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon diced candied orange peel
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon chocolate mini morsels
¼ cup Faretti Biscotti Famosi liqueur
1 ¾ cups panettone, cut into 1-inch cubes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust the rack to the center level. Place the hazelnuts on a small, rimmed baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until fragrant, stirring once or twice as they toast. Remove the nuts from the oven, and drop them onto a clean, lint-free towel. Allow them to cool for a few minutes. Gather the towel around the nuts and briskly rub the nuts together, removing as much of the skins as possible. Set the nuts aside to cool completely. Discard the skins. Coarsely chop the cooled nuts, and divide them in half. Set aside.
If the ricotta is very wet, place it in a sieve set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to drain. Place the sugar in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal knife. Use a paring knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Spread the bean open, and use the dull edge of the paring knife to scrape the seeds from the bean. Drop the seeds into the workbowl of the food processor. Discard the bean or place it in a container with sugar to flavor the sugar for future use. Process the sugar and vanilla seeds for 30 seconds, or until powder fine. Add the drained ricotta to the workbowl. Process until smooth.
Distribute the panettone cubes in the bottom 4 compote glasses. Drizzle the Biscotti Famosi liqueur over the panettone cubes to moisten them.
In a medium bowl combine the ricotta and vanilla sugar mixture with 2 tablespoons of the toasted and chopped hazelnuts and ¼ cup each of the candied orange peel and chocolate mini morsels. Distribute the crema di ricotta over the moistened panettone. Top with the remaining toasted and chopped nuts, candied orange peel, and chocolate mini morsels. Serve.
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