Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuscan Christmas dessert

An Italian Christmas revolves around family and food. We spend time in preparing our family’s favorite recipes that have often been handed down for generations. Every region, city, and country town have their own ritual foods for the Christmas season that are prepared in great quantity to be shared with family and friends. A Christmas lunch includes many recipes and at the end a dessert
We have chosen a Chianti dessert which reminds us of the nice old woman who lives next to us. She is from here , Chianti wine region .Born here, always lived here. She knows everybody in this neighborhood and many are her relatives .
The first Christmas we were here, we people who moved from the “ town”, she brought us this cake as a welcome good luck sign. Now, after 15 years , we cook it together talking about all the people we now know, about new born babies, about everything from here

IL SERPE (SERPENTE) published on Taste Italia magazine
"Il serpe" is the Tuscan word for snake.
Two centuries ago in Chianti there were many people working in the fields. They had to put their hands in small holes among stones, or among pieces of woods, and they were not so careful because they were in a hurry and tired by their work, it could happen accidentally that they touched a viper. Vipers were the only dangerous animal in Chianti fields, not poisonous to death but giving nerve troubles.
So people were afraid of snakes and what could have been a better solution that creating something to defend themselves. For this reason they created a nice tradition of preparing a cake with almonds, typical ingredient in Sienese countryside, with the shape of a snake.
Till nowadays people prepare this “snake” and eat it on Christmas day as a good luck against vipers’ bites.

300g very-finely-ground almonds
3 stiffly-whisked egg whites
A handful of pine-nuts
150g very-finely-ground candied lime
300g sugar
2 coffee beans

Work together almonds, sugar and candied lime, adding the whisked egg whites a little at a time. The mixture must be dense, not too runny. Make the mixture into the shape of a snake. Decorate with the pine-nuts in a herring-bone pattern. Use the coffee beans for the eyes and a piece of candied lime for the tongue. Cover the head and tail with aluminium foil. Bake in the oven at 150°C for 30 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Paola and Simonetta--
    I really like the blog and will try to check in on it often. I have difficulty getting the "stiffness" from egg whites when beating them...am I not whisking long enough?
    thanks and best wishes,