Italian Valentine's Day


 
Romantic Festival of Valentine's Day is celebrated with enthusiasm in the beautiful country of Italy.  Lovers take the opportunity to express love and affection for their beloved.  Many gifts are exchanged.
 
 
Valentine's Day was initially celebrated as a Spring Festival in Italy. Celebration for the day was held in the open air. Young people would gather in tree arbors and gardens and enjoy listening to music and reading of poetry. Later they would stroll off with their Valentine into the gardens.
 
 
Another interesting Valentine's Day tradition followed in Italy where unmarried girls would wake up before sunrise.  People strongly believed that the first man an unmarried girl saw on Valentine's Day, or someone who looked like him would marry her within a year. Girls would wake up early on Valentine's Day and stand by their window to watch a man pass.
 
 
People of Italy see Valentine's Day as a holiday imported from the United States.  For the love and lovers country of Italy, the major day for celebration of love is il giorno della festa degli innamorati. As lovers exclusively celebrate this day, family members and friends do not exchange gifts.
 
 
In recent times lovers in Italy celebrate Valentine's Day by expressing their love to sweethearts.  Couples usually go out for dinners.  There is a tradition to exchange gifts like rose, perfume, chocolates and diamonds depending on the age of the person.  Another popular Valenine's gift in Italy is Baci Perugina-a small chocolate covered hazelnut containing a small slip of paper with a romantic poetic quote in four language.
 
 
 
Below are a couple of delicious Italian desserts for you to make for your special someone.
 
Italian Cream

Ingredients:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 quarter-ounce packet unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. of your favorite fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)

Directions:
Pour the milk into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and allow it to soften for about two minutes. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, pour whipping cream and sugar. Place on medium-low heat. Be sure to stir this constantly to avoid scalding. When sugar is dissolved (This takes about 5 minutes), remove from heat.

Pour the cream mixture from the saucepan into the mixing bowl with the gelatin. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the cream mixture into 6 separate ramekins or custard cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about four hours, or until the vanilla cream is firm. Turn over the ramekins on a small plate and allow the vanilla cream to fall out. If they do not fall out easily, run a knife around the edges.  Place fresh fruit randomly around the molded cream. Refrigerate until time to serve.
 
 Tiramisu
 
8 egg yolks
1/2 c. dark rum
Splash of Amaretto
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. cold water
2 1/2 lbs. mascarpone cheese
36 ladyfingers
2 c. coffee reduction or espresso
Splash Kahlua
Chocolate curls
 
1.  Whisk egg yolks, rum, Amaretto, sugar, and water over a hot water bath (use a double boiler if you have one) until thick and ribbony.  This mixture when finished is called zabaglione.
2.  Cool the zabaglione mixture over ice bath.
3.  Whisk cooled zabaglione and mascarpone cheese together until well incorporated and smooth.  DO NOT overmix or the mascarpone will break and become granular.
4.  To prepare coffee reduction, simmer 4 cups of coffee until reduced by half.  Cool and add Kahlua.
5.  Line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper. 
6.  Place a layer of ladyfingers, flat side down, on the bottom of the pan, leaving a 1-inch gap between the sides of the pan and the ladyfingers. 
7.  Using a pastry brush, soak the ladyfingers with the cooled coffee reduction.
8.  Fill a pastry bag with mascarpone mixture and pipe a rope of cream to fill the gap around the ladyfingers. Pipe cream across ladyfingers.
9.  Place ladyfingers, in upright position, sugar side out, against the pan.  Be sure to push them into the cream and fit them tightly against one another.
10.  Begin the next layer by placing ladyfingers down on the cream layer.  You may need to cut them to create a perfect fit.  Brush them with the coffee reduction.
11.  Pipe a layer of cream on top of ladyfingers and smooth with a spatula.
12.  Allow to chill overnight.
13.  To unmold, simply undo springform pan and remove rim. Top with chocolate curls. Store refrigerated.

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