Ciao amici di bella! Come Stai? Have you ever gone on a vacation and ate something that was so wonderful that years later you could still taste it on your tongue while the smell of it just seemed to waft through the air out of nowhere? Go ahead, take a moment and reminisce…
A few years ago, I had a wonderful opportunity and spent two glorious weeks in Florence and Venice, Italy. Grazie, E. The trip was absolutely amazing, I have never eaten better pasta, drank better wine, or tasted richer thicker hot chocolate. But, most memorable was one of the best things I ever ate–a lovely lemon pastry from a place called Rivoire, located in the Piazza Della Signoria, in Florence. Rivoire is over one hundred thirty-five years old and is the premiere chocolate shoppe in Florence, so not surprisingly their wonderful chocolate was drizzled atop my pastry with a little confectioner’s sugar for good measure. The lemon and the chocolate just melted in my mouth; I have to say this pastry was truly divalicious. I still remember thinking the crust was interesting in a yummy way, but at the time I didn’t know why. Funny thing is I never asked the name of the dessert, so this mystery dessert just remained on my mind and in my heart long after the vacation was over…
Not too long ago, I met a lady who had lived in Italy for many years, so I began to describe this delightful pastry. Right away she said it must have been “Torte Della Nona.” Boy was I happy to have a name and eager to find a recipe. The kicker for me is the fact that I found out Torte Della Nona means Grandmother’s Cake in italian. So, for those of you who know me or read the ”About” page you know my blog is dedicated to my grandmother and her influence on my baking. A coincidence, I doubt it but doesn’t it make sense that the best dessert I ever ate would be a tribute to grandmothers?
Finding a recipe was a labor of love because I had to look at many recipes–many in Italian– and so many of the recipes I came across left me wondering if they would make something as good as the pastry I remembered (of course I didn’t find Rivoire’s recipe). Moreover, would making this recipe in America produce similar or very different results because when you travel outside the US, you find there’s something a little different about our ingredients as opposed to other parts of the world? And, I realized if I found an authentic recipe, it would require a converting measurements because Europeans use the metric system for measuring ingredients (converting measurements can be a little tricky)…
By the by, I recently got a chance to make my long-awaited dessert. I am pleased to say, my Torte Della Nona was pretty good. I got great compliments, so I’ll make it again after some fine tuning. What I learned from researching recipes is the crust is called pasta frolla, which is similar to a shortbread crust. And, that interesting piece of the crust I mentioned earlier is a layer of sponge cake. The sponge cake is topped with a custard, pine nuts (in my case almonds) and then powdered sugar. The pastry is baked and topped with more powdered sugar. Then may be served plain, but I recommend a drizzling of chocolate or chocolate curls (see previous post).
I look forward to getting back to Rivoire to compare notes, but if it wasn’t Torte Della Nona I had there no matter, because I now have a great new dessert to share. I suggest if you’re ever in Florence you stop in for a pastry and some hot chocolate, you won’t be disappointed. But, if you want to try the Torte Della Nona now, I recommend you look at this VIDEO. I need to warn you, it’s in Italian but there is subtext in case you need translation. Play with it and make it your own, the Torte Della Nona will go great with your next Italian or “just because” dinner.
Mangiare e godere.
Until next time,
Be Sweet and Divalicious