Mother’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate and honor the wonderful mother’s and mother figures in our lives. It is truly a day of reflection and gratitude as we think about all that our mammas and nonnas have done and continue to do for us.
“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”―Gail Tsukiyama
At our place, we always gather as a family on Mother’s Day to share a special meal and afternoon together.
We always like to try a new dessert for these special occasions and this year it is was decided that it would be Torta della Nonna. We’ve heard so much about this cake but have never actually tasted it before. Then, coincidentally, we received an email asking if we would like to receive some Baci Perugina chocolates to try in our baking as we prepared a special sweet treat for Mother’s Day!
Soooo…it was a natural. How can we take Torta della Nonna and feature Baci by Perugina chocolates in it?
Thank you to Perugina for sending us the chocolates to try in this recipe. We think we hit the nail on the head with this one!
Have you ever tried Baci Perugina chocolates? I fondly remember receiving these delicious hazelnut filled chocolates on many occasions be it Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day (oh and hint…I love to still receive them!). Any Italian from Brantford, Ontario will remember the trips to Leone Grocery back in the day to buy these chocolates!
Did you know that “baci” in Italian means kisses so appropriately they have always been known as a symbol of love and affection. To top it off, there is a little love note that envelopes each of them, which makes receiving and opening them extra fun! It is fitting then to use this chocolate in our dessert as it embodies sharing happy family times together and the deep admiration we have for our moms.
Torta della Nonna is a long-standing classic Italian dessert. Trying to confirm its origin is another story, however. Some say it originated in Liguria and its popularity spread to Tuscany while others say the exact opposite. Even neighboring provinces Florence and Arrezzo battle to claim it as their own. However, a commonly held belief is that this recipe was invented in the middle of the 20th century by Guido Samorini, a chef from San Lorenzo restaurant in Florence. The story goes that he was trying to make the dessert menu options more exciting for the restaurant patrons. Yet others will argue that the dessert’s origins go back perhaps to the 1800’s.
Whatever the truth may be, all we know is that this cake is fantastic. Why have we waited so long to make it we’ve been telling ourselves!
Simply put, Torta della Nonna is a cake filled with custard, encased in a short-crust pastry, topped with pine nuts and sprinkled all over with icing sugar. Sounds delicious right? Well, we added some of our own touches like Galliano Vanilla liqueur in both the pastry and the cream. Then we sprinkled a layer of chopped Baci Perugina chocolates on top the custard cream before covering with the top crust. Finally, just before serving, we sprinkled more chopped Baci chocolates over top of the icing sugar! Get the picture? Can’t you just taste all that yumminess?!
We were over the moon with the end result and our families thought this cake was definitely worthy of a celebration with our mammas and nonnas!
What’s on your dessert menu this Mother’s Day? How will you be honoring mamma and nonna?
Torta della Nonna
For the crust
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 Tbsp (3/4 pkg, 12g) Lievito Vanigliato
- 2/3 cup super-fine sugar
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp (5ml) Galliano Vanilla Liqueur
For the custard
- 500ml milk (we used 2%)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup super-fine sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tsps (10ml) Galliano Vanilla liqueur
- 1 pkg (0.5gm) vanillina
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (soaked in cold water for about 30 minutes. Let dry on a clean dish-towel)
- 4 Baci Perugina chocolate, chopped
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Baci Perugina chocolates, chopped (as much as you like!)
For the crust
- Place all the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix well.
- Add the butter and pulse briefly until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add the egg yolks and liqueur and process briefly until dough just starts to come together.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. At this point the dough is like coarse sand and very crumbly. Don’t panic! Continue to gather and gently knead to form a ball. Cover with food-safe plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the custard
- In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is nice and creamy.
- Add the flour a little at a time while continuously whisking.
- Add the vanillina. Mix well to combine.
- Add the liqueur. Mix well to combine.
- In a heavy bottom pot, heat the milk over low-medium heat while whisking constantly. When the milk just comes to a boil, remove from the heat.
- Add the hot milk a little at a time to the egg mixture and whisk well after each addition.
- Once all of the milk is incorporated, return the entire mixture to the pot and cook over low-medium heat. It is very important to whisk/stir continuously.
- As the mixture thickens, the frothiness will disappear and it takes on a silky appearance.
- Once the custard begins to bubble, remove it from the heat.
- Immediately pour into a heat-safe glass bowl, cover with food-safe plastic wrap, making sure to cover the surface of the custard and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the assembly
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Lightly grease a 9″ round springform pan.
- Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out 2/3 of the dough (which has been refrigerated) to about 1/2cm thickness and 10-11 inches in diameter.
- Gently place the circle of dough into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared springform pan. You will want to have dough come up the sides about 1.5-2″.
- With a fork, lightly prick the bottom of the dough.
- Stir the cooled custard and carefully pour into the pan being sure to even out the top.
- Sprinkle the chopped Baci Perugina chocolate over the entire surface of the custard.
- Roll out the remaining 1/3 piece of dough to form a circle 9″ in diameter and carefully place over the chocolate covered custard.
- Gently pinch the sides of the top and bottom dough together to seal.
- Cover the top with the pine nuts.
- Place in the oven for 40 minutes.
- When done, remove from the oven, let cool, then refrigerate for several hours.
- Sprinkle icing sugar over the cooled cake.
- Cut into nice size serving pieces and sprinkle all over with more chopped Baci Perugina chocolates.