CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It is a springtime Tasty Tuesday. Angeline’s is joining us today to show off their traditional Italian peach cookies, and talk a bit about a new special menu.
Full recipe and ingredients are below.
Traditional Italian Peach Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
3 large eggs
¾ c. sugar
½ c. whole milk
½ c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 c. ricotta cream
(from Ricotta Cream recipe below)
¼ c. light rum
¼ c. Italian maraschino liqueur or more rum
Red and yellow liquid or paste food coloring
1 c. sugar, plus more as needed
A few peach tree leaves, or store-bought leaf decorations for garnish
To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a separate bowl with a fork. Whisk in the milk, butter, and lemon zest until smooth. Mix in the flour mixture in three or four additions, until everything is well incorporated, finishing the mixing with your hands. Press the dough into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Roll a slightly mounded tablespoon of dough between your palms to make a smooth, round ball. Continue to form balls of equal size, making a total of forty-eight of them, placing the balls on the baking sheets with about 1 inch space between them. When you have filled the first sheet of twenty -four balls, press down on the balls to slightly flatten them.
Bake until the cake bottoms are lightly browned (the tops will be pale), about 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack just until the cakes arc cool enough to handle. Form the second set as the first sheet bakes, and bake them after you have removed the first sheet from the oven.
While the cakes are still warm, use a paring knife to scoop out a teaspoon-size hollow from the flat side of each cake to hold the filling, taking care not to cut all the way through to the edges or top.
Match up the cakes in similar-size pairs. Fill all of the cake hollows with a generous teaspoon of ricotta cream. Sandwich the flat sides of a filled cake pair together until the filling squeezes out just to the edge of the cakes. Gently run your finger around the seam to smooth and remove any excess cream.
To decorate the peaches, stir together the rum and maraschino liqueur in a small bowl. Add red and yellow food coloring, a drop or two at a time, until it turns a dark peach color, using a pastry brush to mix in the color. To test the color, brush a small amount on one of the filled cakes. 1f it is a bright pinkish-red (peach) color, you are ready.
Place 1 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl. Holding a filled cake over the peach-colored rum, dip the pastry brush in the rum and brush it over the cake on all sides, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Set the cake on a wire rack for a minute to absorb a bit of the rum, then roll it in the sugar to give it an even coating of peach fuzz. Continue until all of the peaches are colored and coated with sugar.
Carefully transfer the peaches to an airtight container lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
To serve, arrange the cakes on a footed fruit plate or cake stand to look like peaches. Garnish the cakes by inserting the stem of a peach leaf into a few of the peaches where the two cakes meet.
Making the peaches a day or two ahead allows the alcohol to seep into the cakes, flavoring and softening them.
Makes about 2 cups
About 2 cups fresh ricotta, well-drained
½ c. granulated sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
Press the ricotta through an ultrafine-mesh strainer or splatter screen into a large bowl. Use a spatula to stir in the sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate overnight before using.
Use the finest screen you can find for sieving the ricotta. An ultrafine-mesh strainer will work in a pinch, but for the smoothest, creamiest ricotta cream, press the ricotta through an ultrafine splatter screen using a firm but flexible plastic bowl scraper.