I got some pan de muerto, or pan de los muertos, from a Mexican bakery for Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, also known as All Souls’ Day, November 2. Pan de muerto is a sweet bread made for the occasion that is a round loaf with bone shapes on top. Some of the bread is shaped like a person.
I saw a wonderful replica of an ofrenda, a Day of the Dead altar, at the Museum of Anthropology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
This Halloween, I made a gluten-free version of Lil’ Luna’s Candy Corn Pretzel Fudge with gluten-free candy corn and white chocolate and my favorite Snyder’s of Hanover gluten-free pretzel sticks.
I saw these delightful Halloween-themed chocolates in the window at Li-Lac Chocolates on Bleecker Street. Choose from pumpkins, witches, skulls or ghosts. I love the ghosts, and they are also available in milk and dark chocolate.
The Italian dessert served at Easter, the pastiera, or pizza grano, has its origins in the myths of the ancient world. In fact, it stems from a legend straight from Homer’s Odyssey. According to legend, because the siren Parthenope could not lure Ulysses to crash on her shores, she jumped to her death in the waves, but the god Poseidon saved her by bringing her to the Gulf of Naples where some fishermen rescued her. Every spring, she would revisit the people of Naples. The people gave her seven gifts: flour to symbolize wealth, ricotta to symbolize abundance, eggs to symbolize fertility, grain boiled in milk to symbolize the harmony of animal and vegetable, orange-flower water typical of the area, spices and honey to symbolize the sweet siren’s song. These are the ingredients in the pastiera.
Happy St. Joseph’s Day! Many cultures celebrate March 19 in honor of St. Joseph (San Giuseppe), the husband of the Blessed Mother and the patron saint of workers and pastry chefs. In New Orleans, Italian Americans have parades and a St. Joseph’s Day table. There are two pastries that are popular on this day. One is zeppole–not the fried dough balls from street fairs. Known as zeppole di San Giuseppe, this Neapolitan pastry is a choux that sandwiches a custard cream, often with a cherry on top. The other pastry, known as sfinge from Sicily, are also made from a choux pastry of a more rounded shape and filled with a ricotta filling.
This year, I got sfinge, my favorite, from two NYC-area bakeries, La Guli in Astoria, Queens,
and Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery, also in Astoria, Queens.
The bakeries are around the corner from each other, so you can easily sample both.
Posted in Holiday, Italian, New York
Tagged Astoria, La Guli, March 19, New York, Queens, Rose & Joe's, sfinge, St. Joseph's Day, zeppole
Someone loves me very much and bought me Stick With Me chocolate bon bons for Valentine’s Day! Stick With Me is a Nolita chocolate shop owned by Susanna Yoon, whose resume includes head chocolatier at Per Se as well as pastry cook at Cafe Boulud. Her specialty is hand-shelled chocolate. After sampling this box of beauties, I can say that I have a new favorite chocolate in New York!
It is so hard to find that perfect balance in chocolate–taste and beauty. Some very delicious chocolates are often nothing more than boring brown. On the other hand, some fancy chocolates with colorful designs and intricate shapes can be quite average in taste.
Stick With Me creates that perfect balance of aesthetics and flavor. It was truly a delight to savor each shiny orb. My favorite was the wild strawberry, a sublime blend of creme fraiche, wild strawberry and white chocolate ganache. A close second was yuzu, with such a lovely burst of fresh citrus. Lest you think I only like white chocolate, the dark chocolate raspberry rose came in third. I liked the pronounced rose flavor with a hint of raspberry. There is no doubt that these wonderful flavors are the work of an expert hand. Sea salt caramels run the risk of being too salty or not salty enough. Yoon’s have just the right amount of salt, and the liquid salted caramel is a refreshing and fun variation of salted caramel. The speculoos s’more has a homemade marshmallow atop crushed speculoos cookies. The kalamansi meringue pie is an adorable chocolate. As you can see from the cross section, it has graham cracker pie crust on the bottom topped with a layer of custard pie filling and a dollop of meringue. If that is not the cutest chocolate ever….
If you cannot tell from my enthusiasm, my box of 24 bon bons was gone gone quite quickly.
Posted in Candy, Chef, Chocolate, Dessert, Holiday, Local, New York
Tagged bon bons, Cafe Boulud, caramel, chocolate, chocolates, chocolatier, kalamansi, New York, Nolita, Per Se, sea salt, speculoos, Stick With Me, strawberry, Susanna Yoon, Valentine's Day, white chocolate, yuzu