Desserts and Sweet Snacks: Rustic Italian Style

Viana La Place, Author, Viana L. Place, Author, Deborah Jones, Author
Viana La Place, Author, Viana L. Place, Author, Deborah Jones, Author William Morrow Cookbooks $23 (144p) ISBN 978-0-688-14139-4
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It's come to this--apparently Italians even snack better than anyone else. Not content to rip open a bag of chips, they spread sauteed apples and apricot jam on toasted bread or munch on rustic bread and bittersweet chocolate to satisfy their cravings (so do the French, but it sounds more fun in Italian). Riding the wave of enthusiasm for all things Italian, La Place (Panini, Bruschetta, Crostini; An Unplugged Kitchen) has put together this bite-sized collection of rustic sweets inspired by home cooks throughout Italy. There's a rich semolina cake studded with diced candied orange peel and pistachios, and she suggests enhancing Sweet Olive Oil Quick Bread with pink honeydew ice cream. What could be simpler than topping fresh ricotta with cocoa, brandy and almonds? Just as welcome are her chic ideas for serving fresh fruit, from fresh figs stuffed with chocolate and almonds to the simple goodness of ripe peaches dipped in a glass of red wine. On the other hand, readers may have a hard time conjuring up when they might eat a piece of bread sprinkled with sugar and soaked in red wine. The least justifiable fat in the book is found in the short essays that accompany the recipes, most of which are clearly filler. But La Place does manage to tickle the imagination as well as taste buds. Hardcore types, either Italophiles or snackers, will come away from this idiosyncratic little book with a new perspective on eating sweets. (July)
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