Sample Project From A Taste of Italy

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Nice 'n' Simple

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Stuff Coat Hanger
Depicting Shadows
Popcorn Pudding
Matcha Tea Cake Cookies
(Chocolate Mushrooms)

I like these cookies because they remind me of my grandpa Romano, who used to take my brother and me on mushroom-finding expeditions in the forest. We found all kinds of fresh mushrooms, including porcini and galletti, but the best part was hanging out with Grandpa. Every time I make these delicious, mushroom-shaped cookies, I think of him.

prep time: 45 minutes | cooking time: 45 minutes | serves: 10–12


Extract from

A Taste of Italy by Damiano Carrara

Published by Sterling

 “A well-balanced, deliciously presented cookbook.” —Shelf AwarenessThe Italian-born, up-and-coming cooking show celebrity brings his passion for Tuscan food to the American table. This beautifully photographed cookbook is alive with vibrant, soul-satisfying food! Growing up in Lucca, Italy, chef Damiano Carrara learned how to cook, not only from his mother and grandmother, but also from his father. Here, he brings those dishes from his family’s table to yours—including his father’s tried-and-true recipe for homemade gnocci with pesto. His comforting, delicious recipes range from Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup) and Insalata di Farro con Gamberi (Farro Salad with Shrimp) to Finocchi Gratinati (Fennel au Gratin), Lasagne Vegetariana ai Carciofini (Vegetarian Baby Artichoke Lasagna), and Panna Cotta scattered with fresh berries or shaved dark chocolate. This is authentic Italian home-style cooking at its best.

© 2018 Damiano Carrara / Sterling · Reproduced with permission. · A Taste of Italy by Damiano Carrara, published by Sterling (£24.99, available from


  • Step 1

    Crema al Cioccolato
    (Chocolate Custard)
    Chocolate custard is one of the main players in the world of pastry cream, and one of my great-aunt Magda’s favorites. Although she lived with my family and helped raise my brother and me, just as my mom did, we always saw her as our grandma. She used to make Torta del Nonno (Grandfather’s
    Pie) (see page XXX), a classic cake from Tuscany. It was her favorite.
    prep time: 15 minutes | cooking time: 10 minutes

    1. Pour the milk and heavy whipping cream into a large saucepan. Add the vanilla bean seeds and 1 1⁄4 cups (250g) sugar and bring the mixture to a boil.

    2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and 1⁄2 cup (100g) sugar in a medium bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy.

    3. Once the milk mixture has come to a boil, add the flour to the egg-yolk mixture, a little bit at a time, along with a small amount of the boiling milk. Once the flour is fully incorporated, pour this mixture into the boiling milk. Without taking the pan off the stove, carefully stir the cream until it is thick and boils again, making sure the custard at the bottom of the pan does not burn.

    4. Take the saucepan off the stove. Stir the chocolate into the hot milk mixture and mix it well with a whisk until the chocolate has dissolved. Cool the chocolate and use it with your favorite pastry.

  • Step 2

    Make the Pate a Choux (Basic Cream Puff Pastry).

    Pâte à Choux
    (Basic Cream Puff Pastry)
    prep time: 30 minutes | cooking time: 15 minutes | serves: 10–12 (Makes approximately 60 cream puffs)

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). With a brush, lightly grease a baking sheet with oil.

    2. Bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring briskly for 1–2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and begins to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.

    3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a beater attachment. Beating the mixture on low, incorporate the eggs slowly, one at a time, until the mixture is well combined.

    4. While it’s still warm (but not hot), spoon the choux paste into a pastry bag fitted with a 1⁄2-inch (12mm) plain tip and pipe out round puffs onto the baking sheet. Bake the puffs for 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and feel hollow. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the puffs to cool to room temperature. Now your pate a choux are ready to make eclairs, cream puffs, and so many other delicious desserts!

  • Step 3

    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

  • Step 4

    Spoon the choux paste into a pastry bag and pipe out small cream puffs for the mushroom caps and small eclair shapes for the mushroom stems. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the mushroom caps and stems are golden brown around the edges.

  • Step 5

    While the mushroom puffs are baking, prepare the chocolate cream and chocolate custard.

  • Step 6

    Assembly: Once the Crema al Cioccolato (chocolate custard) is cold, combine it with the whipped cream and pipe the mixture into both the cream puff and the éclair underneath.

  • Step 7

    Then put the stem inside the cream puff so it will resemble a little mushroom.

  • Step 8

    Dust with powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

  • Step 9

    Serve fresh or keep it in the fridge for 3–4 days at the most.

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