Gingerbread Nativity Scene

The Daring Bakers December Challenge.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
We had to make a gingerbread house this month but we were free to choose what we wanted to make so I chose a nativity scene, It is a tradition here in my country and with this ones I have made 4 already a big one not edible, two small ones not edible and a this one is totally edible, I looove making nativity scenes we call them “pesebre” or “nacimiento”.
Thanks Anna and Y for this wonderful challenge I had no problems this time with my challenge

Behind two of the christmas ornaments I made


A Dessert for My Mom or a Faery Tarantella.

A Dessert for My Mom
or a Faery Tarantella.

I made this dessert for my mom, she wanted “ something sweet” and although she is not diabetic she cannot eat too much sugar so I decided to make this Tarantella…yes that’s the name of this dessert and it consists of a flan recipe, sandwich bread, butter and pears or the fruit you like.
My mom like it very much but the one who loved this so much was my nephew Michele and I guess my brother, a flan addict, will like too. I hope you like this dessert as much as we do.

For the flan:
6 large eggs.
2 cups of milk (skim or full cream).
6 envelopes of splenda. (or to your taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Other ingredients:
2 pears (peeled, seeded and sliced)
Raisins (optional)
2 envelopes of splenda.
1 teaspoon of butter.
A caramelized cake pan (I used a very thin coat of caramel in my cake pan)
Sandwich bread slices.
1- Take of the brown sides of the bread slices, and spread butter on one side.
2- Place a layer of the bread with the buttered side up into the cake pan, then a layer of pear (cook the pears with 1 teaspoon butter and 2 envelopes of splenda for about 5 minutes) and raisins, and another layer of bread but this time the buttered side down.
3- Mix all the ingredients for the flan and carefully add this into the cake pan trying to soak all the surface of your dessert, the bread slices will float when you add all the flan mixture.
4- Bake (in a water bath or Bain Marie) at 180°C until it is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


The Daring Bakers november Challenge:
This is my favorite challenge, for one reason, My Daddy loved them.

Italians are able to build very high towers, those towers might lean but they won't fall.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.
Thank you Lisa Michele, they were delicious, and a recipe I’ll keep
Original Recipe

Lidisano’s Cannoli

Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar
Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).
2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios
Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through
2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.
3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.
For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).
2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.
1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).
1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.
1/2 cup (123 grams/4.34 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1/2 cup (113 grams/4.04 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (122.5 grams/4.32 ounces) canned pumpkin, drained like ricotta
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.65 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approx. 1.7 grams/approx. 0.06 ounces) pumpkin pie spice (taste)
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 2 grams/approx. 0.08 ounces) pure vanilla extract
6-8 cannoli shells
1. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl, cover and chill until it firms up a bit. (The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).
2. Fill the shells as directed above
- Dough must be stiff and well kneaded
- Rolling the dough to paper thinness, using either a rolling pin or pasta machine, is very important. If the dough is not rolled thin enough, it will not blister, and good cannoli should have a blistered surface.
- Initially, this dough is VERY stubborn, but keep rolling, it eventually gives in. Before cutting the shapes, let the dough rest a bit, covered, as it tends to spring back into a smaller shapes once cut. Then again, you can also roll circles larger after they’re cut, and/or into ovals, which gives you more space for filling.
- Your basic set of round cutters usually doesn’t contain a 5-inch cutter. Try a plastic container top, bowl etc, or just roll each circle to 5 inches. There will always be something in your kitchen that’s round and 5-inches if you want large cannoli.
- Oil should be at least 3 inches deep and hot – 360°F-375°F, or you’ll end up with greasy shells. I prefer 350°F - 360°F because I felt the shells darkened too quickly at 375°F.
- If using the cannoli forms, when you drop the dough on the form into the oil, they tend to sink to the bottom, resulting in one side darkening more. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to gently lift and roll them while frying.
- DO NOT crowd the pan. Cannoli should be fried 2-4 at a time, depending on the width of your saucepan or deep fryer. Turn them once, and lift them out gently with a slotted spoon/wire skimmer and tongs. Just use a wire strainer or slotted spoon for flat cannoli shapes.
- When the cannoli turns light brown - uniform in color, watch it closely or remove it. If it’s already a deep brown when you remove it, you might end up with a really dark or slightly burnt shell.
- Depending on how much scrap you have left after cutting out all of your cannoli shapes, you can either fry them up and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar for a crispy treat, or let the scraps rest under plastic wrap and a towel, then re-roll and cut more cannoli shapes.
- Push forms out of cannoli very gently, being careful not to break the shells as they are very delicate. DO NOT let the cannoli cool on the form, or you may never get it off without it breaking. Try to take it off while still hot. Hold it with a cloth in the center, and push the form out with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.
- When adding the confectioner’s sugar to the filling..TASTE. You may like it sweeter than what the recipe calls for, or less sweet, so add in increments.
- Fill cannoli right before serving! If you fill them an hour or so prior, you’ll end up with soggy cannoli shells.
- If you want to prepare the shells ahead of time, store them in an airtight container, then re-crisp in a 350°F (176 °C) oven for a few minutes, before filling.
- Practice makes perfect


Corn and Cheese sticks (Venezuelan)

Corn and Cheese Sticks (Venezuelan)

Well I think I getting better now, this is taking time but as my brother says “depression leads to illness” I have been depress, maybe for this time of the year I get to think a lot, about my dad and now my grandma and my aunt, my grandma was born on December 31 a bit after 12:00 a.m. so after we said bye to the old year and hello to the new one we also say happy birthday to my dear grandma, my aunt was always happy and loved Christmas time, and my dad he was my strength I miss him so much, it’s been five years now but I can take this pain away from me, it’s been hard to accept that this is a normal part of being alive, I miss his bear hugs, competing from the traffic light to the house to see who got first, boxing with him, teaching him about stars and constellations and trying to convince him that I was an alien. There are so many things to remember every single second he was like a kid, like a bear, like Fred Flintstone too, HE WAS A HERO AND THE BEST DAD.

I love when this happens

2 cups corn flour.
2 tablespoons wheat all purpose flour.
2 tablespoons corn oil.
2 ¼ warm water.
1 ½ teaspoon salt.
2 tablespoons White or brown sugar.
White cheese sticks (or feta cheese).
Oil for frying .

1-Place all the ingredients in a bowl and knead very well, let rest 5 minutes.
2- Place your bag on the counter and spread some drops of oil and water on it (do this for every empanada you will make but for the rest use water only).
3- Heat the oil. Make a ball with the dough and place on the palm of your hand pad on it to flatten it, make an oval shape and place a cheese stick in the center of the flattened dough overlap the sides and close the ends and roll between your hand to make a nice dough log, deep fry them, they are ready when they have a golden brown color, continue like this until you fry all of them.
Note: This the same dough for empanadas without the grated cheese, you can see it here




As I have to be quiet, try not to talk too much, I decided to get in the kitchen and began to work on the “perfect” formula for my panettone and pandoro this is the second batch of panettone, I think this is THE recipe, everybody said it was delicious and they all said that I should make and sell them because they are better than the ones they find in the supermarket or the bakeries…may be those are not FRESH ha ha ha. Well to be honest I like these panettoni a lot because they smell like Christmas, they are moist and they are so soft, like a sponge.

I began with this very hard and almost dry dough
After I added the other ingredients, while it was resting

The fruits

The weather was too hot for this buttery dough

Third time resting...so lazy dough

Resting againg...

Ready to get in the oven


Resting overnight.
On the door: finger paint, on the wall: butter "paint?" author: Michele

The next morning...ta daaaa

Whith chocolate syrup is even better

A sponge...


Happy Halloween.

Happy Halloween.

My sister and I decided to play a joe on Michele and, boy was he scared, he thought it was the headless horseman but then and being very careful he went to investigate and he said "HA HA HA I knew it, I knew it" he was laughing almost hysterically. Well..he wanted to celebrate halloween, didn't he??? (Michele and I love to watch The Legend of Sleeppy Hollow).

I think I am a bit better, thanks so much my dear friends for your concern.

Today I made a very typical smoothy from my hometown we call it "vitamina" vitamin, it is made of pumpin, milk, sugar and vanilla (my personal touch sweetened condensed mil and nutmeg) and pumpking pie and a mini pie with splenda for mom since she cannot eat sugar.


faery Mocha Dessert

Faery Mocha Dessert.

Ok I don’t know what is happening to me, but bronchitis wasn’t gone when my larynx began to hurt and now I have laryngitis, my Goodness….nothing works for me, I might be an alien (E.T. phone Dr House..er..home)
Well I made this to share with some friends it is very easy to make, you know…I feel kind of lazy (so many antibiotics, antihistaminic drugs, syrups, beverages, home medicines, pills, witchcraft….ooops) *cough* *cough* *cough* sorry…Again
I made a sponge cake, mocha pudding and coffee-marsala wine syrup to soak the cake. But you can buy lady fingers (savoiardi) and box pudding and prepare it according to the instructions.
I sliced my sponge cake trying to make very slim slices, I placed a layer of cake slices soaked them with the coffee-marsala wine syrup then a layer of mocha pudding and then I sprinkle dark cocoa powder over the pudding layer, repeat the process until all ingredients are used and finally cover the dessert with an Italian meringue and place in the refrigerator until very cold (better overnight). According to my friends it was delicious (my opinion too and scent of the dessert yummmmm ).


Sandwich bread with green onion and cheddar cheese.

Sandwich bread with green onion
and cheddar cheese.

This recipe belongs to my favorite baker an pastry chef, he is very famous in Latin America and I always buy his magazines, with him I learnt to use malt extract which gives moisture, color and a delicious taste to my breads.

For this olives, bacon an chear cheese

35 gr fresh yeast.
100 cc water.
1 teaspoon sugar.
1 tablespoon flour.
1 kilogram all purpose flour. (we call it 0000)
100 gr sugar.
20 gr ssalt.
550 cc milk.
10 gr malt extract.
75 gr butter (soft).
Green onion chopped.
Cheddar cheese.
1- Mix all the ingredients for the sponge and let rest for ten minutes.
2- Mix the flour an salt, then make a well in the center an a the rest of the ingredients and the sponge..
3- With a whisk begging to mix the ingredients taking small amounts of flour until you use all the flour and then knead.
4- This dough is sticky as a tape but won’t attach to your hands, I learnt from my own experience that this kind of dough does not need to be worked out thoroughly because as it is wet the gluten will develop while the dough rests.
5- Let the dough rest until it doubles its size and then cut in halves, extent it with your hands and roll place in very well greased and floured loaf pans, brush with beaten egg an place the green onion and cheese on top, let rise until it doubles the initial size.
6- Carefully brush with beaten egg again and bake in a preheated oven at 190 °C until they are golden brown and you pad on top they make a hollow sound.
7- Let tem cool before removing them from the pan.
A good advice is to use parchment paper to line the pans