In Simple Italian (Plum), popular TV chef Silvia Colloca shares the essential dishes and techniques at the heart of the world’s most popular cuisine. With 100 recipes and countless tips and tricks, you’ll be cooking like a nonna in no time. Give this deelish Mascarpone, Chocolate and Coffee Fingers from the book a try. It’s a great afternoon tea treat. To be paired with a cappuccino or espresso, if you want to be really Italian!
If dessert baking falls into the ‘too hard’ basket for you, let me introduce you to my family’s favourite dessert hack, involving no actual baking and measurements that vary according to how many hazelnuts or how much coffee you favour. If you like that famous hazelnut and chocolate spread, then this fudgy slice is for you!
Serves 8 – 10
85 g (⁄2 cup) dark chocolate chips
60 g butter, softened
2 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso coffee
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or rapadura sugar)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
250 g mascarpone
2–3 tablespoons hazelnuts
Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Add the coffee, cocoa, sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature, then add the mascarpone and gently beat until incorporated – be careful not to whip it too much or it may split.
Toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan over low heat for 1–2 minutes or until they smell fragrant. Rub them in a tea towel to loosen their skins and set aside to cool for a couple of minutes, then incorporate them into the chocolate mixture.
Line a 20 cm x 10 cm cake tin or baking tray with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang on the two long sides. Pour in the batter and flatten with the back of a spoon. Fold the overhanging plastic over the
top to enclose it securely, then place in the fridge to set for 2–3 hours.
Turn the slice out onto a board and cut it into roughly 4 cm x 2 cm fingers. Place them in the freezer for 30–45 minutes to set. Serve straight from the freezer, dusted in cocoa powder, with an espressoshot or a little Vin Santo.
Simple Italian by Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Rob Palmer