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Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen Hardcover – October 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews Review

Gina DePalma is the pastry chef at Manhattan's Babbo, home of Mario Batali's most acclaimed Italian fare. In Dolce Italiano, DePalma offers 90-plus doable recipes for a wide range of traditional and signature Italian sweets, such as Chocolate and Walnut Torte from Capri, Venetian Apple Cake, and Sesame and White Corn Biscotti. DePalma also provides illuminating asides on techniques and ingredients, including information on such "indispensable" items as honey, ricotta, mascarpone and grappa. Particularly notable chapters explore fried and festival sweets.

DePalma writes passionately about "dolce," revealing at one point her obsessive attempt to track down the best ricotta cheesecake. Most readers will share her attraction to the Italian dessert repertoire, which, though it lacks the richness and invention of, say, its French equivalent, appeals through simple good taste. Readers seeking a thorough introduction to Italian dessert making, presented in the context of its bounteous history and the author’s devotion to her subject, can do no better than to explore Dolce Italiano. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. DePalma, pastry chef at upscale Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City (owner Mario Batali contributes a foreword), approaches Italian-American desserts from three directions: traditional Italian (Polenta Cookies from the Veneto); Italian-American, learned at the elbow of her Calabrese grandmother (in a charming introduction, DePalma recalls how her grandmother used to visit her family in Virginia, stepping off the plane from New York bearing hunks of cheese, cans of olive oil and DePalma's favorite taralli); and what are best described as American-Italian. The latter are true hybrid desserts, such as a crustless Yogurt Cheesecake with Pine Nut Brittle, which combines mascarpone and the Greek-style yogurt now widely available in U.S. grocery stores. This concoction has probably never appeared on any menu in Italy, but it successfully marries ingredients and techniques from both places, without losing sight of the genuine quality that is the hallmark of Italian food. DePalma's tone is genuine, too, whether she's recalling how she woke up in the middle of the night in her Brooklyn apartment to obsess over a lemon tart or patiently explaining why real balsamic vinegar is costly, but worth it. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393061000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393061000
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By K. Riemann on October 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Last week I got a copy of Dolce Italiano for my birthday. Now you have to know a few things, I love reading cookbooks. I also love cooking from cookbooks, but rare is the book that provides excellent reading material, excellent insight, and excellent recipes. For example, I love the recipes in Ina Gartens' Barefoot Contessa series, but I can read one of her cookbooks in a sitting.

Not true, for Dolce Italiano, Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. Gina DePalma has crammed so much incredible information, and heartfelt stories into her book, that I've been reading it for five days now and still have several more nights of enjoyment left to look forward too (not to mention months of recipes to try). From the introduction which gives you insight into Gina's background, to the ten Italian ingredients you must know (which section, by the way, I still haven't finished digesting), even if every recipe was a dud, you'd still have gotten your money's worth in entertainment and reference.

Now, in all honesty, I've only made one recipe, the Fresh Fig Tart, (well two if you count the crust and actual tart as two separate recipes), but man is that good, and easy - so I highly doubt there will be any duds in this book.

Tarts (and pies) have always intimidated me, but this crust came together so easily in the food processor. Then rolling it out, well, once I got over my fear of flouring the surface (I put a scant amount down the first time), it rolled out great on the second try. I followed Gina's advice and carpet-rolled it over my rolling pin to transfer it to the tart pan, simple. Also, throughout the book Gina gives practical advice on other things too. So like she suggested, I saved the leftover crust from trimming the excess, wrapped it and put it in the freezer.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Mariana Monterossi on October 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The desserts in this book are just incredible; if you close your eyes, you will think you are eating in Italy, but then you will be missing the gorgeous photos in this book.

My little group of friends and I have already made, and eaten, the hazelnut cookies (devoured), the biscotti, and the fig tart! Go, buy this book and try the fig tart while they are in season! 'Cuz that's a clue to this book --- fresh ingredients, wonderfully prepared.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Bundt Lust TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen collects a treasure trove of desserts and savories from Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant (The Babbo Cookbook) in NYC. There are several forewords, including one by Mario Batali himself and Colum Sheehan, wine director of Babbo. Gina's thorough introduction includes her own earliest memories of her Nonni's kitchen and growing up in a Italian-American family that still revolved around the Italian style of shopping and cooking. She includes a section called Learning Italian that covers various regions, DOP and IGP origins, a recommended reading list, ten Italian ingredients you should know (some will surprise you!), and a brief, effective section on equipment.

The first section is devoted to Italian cookies and includes several almond-based cookies (almond fingers, chocolate kisses, mostaccioli), semolina cookies (lemony semolina cookies), polenta cookies, chestnut brownies, and several biscottis (almond, orange and anise, mosaic, polenta and sesame). Many are light and refreshing rather than the heavy, dense, cloyingly sweet desserts that Americans prefer, and the presence of polenta gives baked goods a rather toothsome crunch that will be unfamiliar to American palates.

Cakes include several gems, including grappa-soaked mini sponge cakes, citrus-glazed polenta cake, chestnut spice cake with mascarpone cream, almond and raisin cake, chocolate and walnut torte from Capri, zucchini-olive oil cake with lemon crunch glaze, yogurt cheesecake with pine nut brittle, obsessive ricotta cheesecake filled with candied orange and lemon rind, and Venetian apple cake rich with honey, spices, and polenta.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amy on October 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I don't usually buy dessert cookbooks, relying on recipes given me by friends and family. But after eating desserts at Babbo, I had to buy this book and begin cooking from it. What's fabulous about Dolce Italiano is that it makes these interesting, luscious desserts completely approachable and workable for the average home cook. The author's passion for good ingredients, interesting combinations, and good technique is always helpful, never off-putting. There are many traditional Italian sweets, and some that are twists and interpretations that always make sense to the palate. The recipes I tried worked beautifully, and I learned a lot from the little essays on ingredients and regions. I want to cook my way through the book--each chapter has recipes I'm eager to try. Now I need to find a more reasonably priced source for hazelnuts, since I've learned how much I adore them! (Good thing there's a source listing in the book!)
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dessert Lover on October 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this wonderful dessert cookbook because I have eaten at Babbo and loved it. There are many excellent Italian cookbooks out there, but few include as many authentic and delicious desserts as are in Dolce Italiano. The book reads like an insider's guide to the best of the best! The photographs make you want to try everything. I've already baked the Mosaic Biscotti and they live up to their description. They are chock- full of hazelnuts, pistachios, and chocolate -- among the best biscotti I've ever baked, and I've baked many. I was planning on freezing some, since the recipe is large. Guess what? They were scarfed down in no time!!!
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