Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tortoni from my Childhood

White Bear Lake is frozen - a good three-four feet. We have been waking up to fifteen below zero F. I will not speak of wind chill. Seems hardly the time for a frozen dessert.



But there's something about the New Year that makes me reflect on life, days, family, past and somehow my meandering mind has been obsessing on my favorite childhood dessert. A tortoni. Almondy-creamy, semi-freddo, simple, luscious.


Once upon a time in days of yore, New York City Italian restaurants all had red-checkered tablecloths, a Chianti bottle with a candle growing out of it and a simple menu of pastas with red sauces. Sometimes, a Chicken Parmigiana dinner would be thrown in. But basically it was spaghetti, manicotti or lasagne with red sauce. Linguine with white clam sauce and sometimes a Veal Marsala.


There wasn't even pizza! Pizza was reserved for the Pizza Parlours! Dessert was always a choice of spumoni or a tortoni. I always had the tortoni. Always. And now I have been craving one. I find souped-up versions of tortoni - laden with dried fruits, chocolate or whole eggs. They're not my childhood tortoni.


I pared down recipes and this was the closest I could find. Simple, easy, creamy-white (no egg yolks!) and when frozen, it is still warmer than the outdoors.


Tortoni Recipe - serves 8
2 egg whites

4 cups of heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

20 amaretti cookies crushed

garnish: toasted sliced almonds and crushed amaretti cookies


Whip your cream with the sugar and extracts till it is whipped cream consistency. Separately whip your egg whites till glossy and soft peaks form. Fold your egg whites into your whipped cream. Cover the bottom of 8 ramekins with 3/4 of the amaretti crushed cookies. Add the egg-white-almond cream. Freeze for four hours or more. Take out about ten minutes before serving. Garnish with toasted almonds and more amaretti cookies.



Clouds of egg whites folded into the cream keep it feeling light (even though we know it's not)


The crushed amaretti cookies add almond to the tortoni - but I don't think it's necessary. I am wondering about toasting almonds, grinding them and using that as a base.


I love the clouds of cream. Warmer than my clouds of snow.

Kirsten was a wee bit slow eating her tortoni. She was joined by hungry reinderr.

Although I think her brother and boyfriend had something to do with that! I find I still love the dessert of my childhood. It's vintage - as I am. And a wee bit nutty. Happy 2010 all. May it be sweet and nutty and a vintage year!

40 comments:

Drick said...

thanks for posting the recipe - i was waiting on it .... glad you have this one to share

Wanda said...

I've never had Tortoni, maybe I should, it's similar to my last name. :) I imagine it is lighter in body than icecream but still has all the flavor of the heavy cream.
Something like icecream mousse, maybe? Or not!
Wishing you a good year in 2010!

Claudia said...

I'm hoping you like it! It not frozen like ice cream - sort of semi-freddo. Lighter than mousse and ice cream because it only has egg whites and not the yolks. But you know - not exactly "light!"

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

OH MY...I thought it was cold in DFW. The high most of this week is going to be in the 20s.
I love this dessert. I AM making it tomorrow. I'll send you a pic.
Thanks for the recipe and STAY WARM!

Lucy said...

I remember tortoni from my childhood too, but I'm young enough that even then I remember it being hard to find. A couple of years ago I decided to make my own, but I've never seen one like this! I'm used to vanilla ice cream flavored with amaretto liquor, topped with very finely ground almonds and a cherry (sounds simple, comes out delicious). Can't wait to try this out!

Claudia said...

Lucy, I would love to try your recipe!

Velva said...

OMG! Fifteen below zero without mentioning the wind chill factor-YIKES!!!! I would be useless in that kind of weather. Stay warm.
Your tortoni sounds really comforting. I like it a lot.

Happy New Year to you! I am looking forward to another great year enjoying yoru blog posts. Thanks for having a wonderful blog.

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

I don't ever remember eating this! I saw someone on tv making it recently and I was intrigued. I would love to try it! Happy New Year! XO

Lucy said...

Well its less of a recipe and more of a throwing together of ingredients, haha! You add about 1/2 cup of amaretto liquor to 1 quart of your favorite brand of vanilla ice cream, softened. Pour the ice cream into small bowls/cupcake tins. Throw about 1 cup of whole almonds into a food processor (or go at em with a hammer) and sprinkle on top. Re-freeze till firm and voila, very homemade tortoni! ;)

Elra said...

Happy New Year to you and your family. May this year bring lots of happiness.
Cheers,
elra

Katy ~ said...

I am enjoying seeing these old favorites. Good way to preserve food memories. I say food does not have to be complicated to be delicious or memorable. This one looks both. Will have to give this a try as we enjoy frozen desserts here.

And BRRRRR on those temperatures. Guess I'll stay in New England where it's WARM!! LOL

My Little Space said...

Such a simple lovely recipe! Guess Kirsten enjoying hers with her little friends huh! Happy 2010 and nice of meeting you... and having you to be my friend.
Best wishes, Kristy
p/s Btw, how's your cat?

Christine said...

Lovely! Tortoni is perfect as my dessert after dinner in every season throughout the year! Delish!

Donna-FFW said...

"clouds of cream" that alone makes me want to try this. Ive never had it and it sounds wonderful.

Please stay warm, it sounds absolutely frigid. I hope you dont have to leave the house much. BUNDLE up!! Holy cow I cant even imagine that cold.

Ruth said...

Hmm almonds, amaretto...My favourites!

Lynda said...

I'm loving this childhood favorite of yours! I've never had Tortoni, but with all that cream it has to be delicious!
Brrr, I thought our 15 degrees was cold, but your -15 sounds unbearable!
Happy New Year to you, Claudia!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

I just popped them into the freezer and my 5 year old is VERY excitied!

The Blonde Duck said...

That sounds amazing! I love how the silver moose is having a smackeral!

Claudia said...

Lucy, thanks for the recipe! I shall try.
Kristy, Hope you love it! Hope! Hope! Pippin (cat) is on immune boosters. So far, so good. We watch and wait but he is back to being very mischievous!
All: thanks for so many kind comments. What a lovely way to start 2010!

figtree said...

I miss those red checkered tablecloths!!! I enjoyed reading this post..gtreat memories..and a great dessert.

Barbara GF said...

Brrr ... that is cold, Claudia. I thought our 5 degrees was bad the other morning. But your fluffy, white tortoni is heart-warming. Lovely post.

Barbara said...

What a fabulous recipe! I've never made tortoni. Cold or not I'm for it!
Yes, we're even cold in Florida this week! Relatively speaking.

Kim said...

This looks so creamy and delicious! I love desserts like this, especially if they evoke childhood memories :D

OysterCulture said...

This has like no calories right? I have new year resolutions to consider. Thanks so much for sharing, but I'm going to hold onto this for a while. Its so cold here in SF, I feel like I'm in the icebox with the tortoni. Happy New Year.

Sophie said...

What a lovely recipe from your childhood!!

Thanks for sharing this delightful dessert with us, Claudia!

Chow and Chatter said...

it matches the snow LOL

looks amazing your an amazing cook Claudia

themonrofamily said...

Hi Claudia,
I just found your blog. This is Wendy, Eden Prairie Food Examiner. I can't believe how much more we have in common, like favorite movies (Shakespeare in love and Love Actually) and writers (I LOVE David Sedaris). Anyway, great blog. Have a look at mine: www.yovia.com/blogs/simplyfood. Do you make money with ads on your blog? Just curious. Anyway, have a great day.

Claudia said...

Hi Wendy! Love your website. No ads per se (so no income from ads) just bog lists and the Food Buzz Featured Publisher Program. I am fortunate enough to recieve products occasionally and devise recipes - but do not use this blog as generating income. That's for my plays!

The Blonde Duck said...

I love that you write plays! I'd love to see them sometime!

Juliana said...

Happy New Year Claudia! This clouds of egg whites look delicious with the cream...it is a must try :-)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Tortoni is one of my favorites also Claudia! I tasted it for the first time in Florence, Italy when I was 18. It was so heavenly! The love the almond flavor. I never tried to make it as I thought it was made like ice cream and I don't have an ice cream maker. Thnaks so much for this recipe!
This is such a cold winter -- stay warm!

Anna said...

I love vintage recipes, especially those from grandma, It's most of the time the most delicious. Yours looks delicious.

5 Star Foodie said...

I've never had Tortoni! Sounds just heavenly and I can't wait to make it! Thanks so much for the recipe! Happy New Year!

Caveman Cooking said...

I've never had Tortoni before. But, this totally makes me want to try it!
But, you should never feed the Reindeer dairy ... it makes them very gassy! ;)

Katherine Aucoin said...

This looks like one amazing dessert that has my name all over it!

theUngourmet said...

I would love this no matter what the temperature! Hope you warm up soon!

girlichef said...

I've never had tortoni...it sounds awesome! I love almond anything, so I know I'd love it :)

Mary said...

These look incredible! I caught your comment about a play. It would be a perfect short subject type of thing and it could be very funny if well written. Go for it. Blessings...Mary

pegasuslegend said...

Congrats Claudia!!!!! OMG this is so exciting and a wonderful opportunity you so deserve~ HAVE FUN!!!!