I made Italian Creme Cake, which according to most of the history I could find on this cake is that it is as Italian as German Chocolate Cake is German. Who knows but the name of the cake definitely fit the theme of the party.
I also made Lemon Panna Cotta, which IS a traditional Italian dessert much like a custard. It is a heavenly combination of cream, milk, sugar and a little gelatin. This recipe from Epicurious infuses the panna cotta with lemon and vanilla and is perfect served with a simple coulis and/or fresh berries.
If you have never made panna cotta before this is a must. Your friends will think you worked much harder than you did, you can have great fun creating your presentation and everyone will rave about it. I guarantee it.
Lemon Pannacotta with Lemon Marmalade
Bon Appétit | May 2011
by Jimmy Bannos Jr.
The Purple Pig, Chicago
Read more on Epicurious.com.
1 cup whole milk, divided
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Peel from 1 lemon (removed with a vegetable peeler)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Pour 1/2 cup milk into a medium bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let sit until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, lemon peel, and remaining 1/2 cup milk in a large saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean into saucepan; add bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Bring cream mixture back to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain. Divide among eight 3/4-cup ramekins. Chill uncovered until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Using a small sharp knife, cut around edges of each panna cotta. Place a small serving plate atop each ramekin and invert, allowing panna cotta to settle onto plate. Serve with marmalade.
Just a couple of notes about this recipe:
-Don't be alarmed if the mixture looks very thin when you pour it into the ramekin. It will set up.
-I did spray the ramekins very lightly with a cooking spray and then wiped out with a paper towel just to assure they would come out. I don't think it is absolutely necessary but they did come out beautifully.
-I used a raspberry coulis. Just simmer some raspberries with a little sugar and a couple of dashes of lemon juice until the berries are cooked down. Strain and serve.
-The Epicurious recipe includes a recipe for lemon marmalade. I do not recommend the marmalade.