Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meeting Giada, and an Italian dessert

When I heard that Giada De Laurentiis was going to be in town last Friday for a demo and book signing - coincidentally, a day I'd already taken off from work - I knew I had to check it out. I've always been a big fan of Giada's - from her shows on the Food Network to her cookbooks (I have Everyday Italian and Giada's Family Dinners), I'm always impressed by her cooking style and the way she incorporates her heritage and family traditions.

So, early afternoon on Friday I found myself outside in Tribune Plaza with hundreds of other Giada-obssessed Chicagoans, hoping to be one of the first 500 to receive a free copy of her latest book, Giada at Home, for her to sign. She started with a demo of orzo pasta salad (I should probably mention that the event was sponsored by Target), and even though I couldn't see anything, it was fun to hear her talk to the crowd and answer questions. After waiting a loooooong time for my turn, I got to talk with her for a few seconds while she autographed my cookbook. 

So what did I say to her in those few seconds? I think it went something like this...

Me: "Hi! I'm Annie! I'm a big fan!" (note all the exclamation points; imagine this in your head as a 'squeaky-excited' voice)

Giada: "Wow, I see you have a few of my cookbooks there!"

Me: "Yup! I love them! Last night I made your Chocolate Amaretti Cake!"

Giada: "You did?!"

The end. 

But yes, folks. In that moment, I had to tell Giada that I made her cake...because I love it. It's incredibly moist, not too sweet, and just seems uber-Italian to me. My mom, sister-in-law and I were dining at an Italian restaurant and then seeing Carmen at the Lyrica Opera, and I thought this cake would be the perfect pick-me-up after the show.

I promise that my photos will get better...practice makes perfect!

Chocolate Amaretti Cake
(adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis)

3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup baby amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel (1 orange's worth)
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. If you have a 9-inch springform pan, spray it with nonstick spray. If you, like me, don't have a springform pan, any 9-inch pan can work (I used a regular cake pan) - but I did find that it stuck to the bottom a little.

Microwave the chocolate until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds, for about 1 minute. Combine the almonds and cookies in a food processor. Pulse until the almonds and cookies are finely ground. Transfer the nut mixture to a medium bowl.

Add the butter and sugar to the processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add the grated orange peel and pulse briefly, until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Blend until the eggs are incorporated. Clean the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again. Add the nut mixture and melted chocolate. Pulse until blended. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

If you want to get fancy, transfer the cake to a platter. You can serve with sifted cocoa powder or powdered sugar on top. Another great idea: serve with freshly made whipped cream, and add some orange juice from the orange you've zested.

1 comment:

  1. I am a big fan of regular chololate cake and most thinks chololate. I will have to check this out. keep blogging.