“A tavola non si invecchia”. - Italian proverb (At the table with good friends and family you do not become old).

Sharing authentic Italian recipes entrusted upon me through the privilege of being invited into many Italian homes and kitchen’s abroad. I travel, cook, eat, share, learn and photograph my experiences, a truly soul enriching journey. There are now over 100 recipes on this blog to search from. I am a Melbourne born girl who now resides in Pietrasanta, Italy. Sharing my love for food and all things Italian with you. I am not a professionally trained chef, just a person that really loves cooking and has made my passion my reality! Through talent and drive I now work as a private chef in some of the most prestigious private villa`s here in Tuscany, Italy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

La Befana

Just when you think the Christmas festive season is all over in Italy, and you could not possibly eat another morsel. Along comes the celebration of La Befana. Just like children across the world look forward to the arrival of Father Christmas, the children in Italy look forward to the arrival of the Befana who comes to visit on the eve of the 6th of January. To me it seems odd and scary that children eagerly await the arrival of a witch who delivers candy to those who have been good and coal to those who have been naughty. Nowadays sugared candy made in the form of coal is usually given. Normally a member of the family dresses up as the witch and makes a spooky appearence. The story is that the Befana flies around the world and comes down chimneys to deliver the goods. 
The Befana has been an Italian tradition since the X111 century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. Making Father Christmas look like a new kid on the block.
The arrival of the Befana is celebrated in Italian homes by a big celebratory feast. 
So I`m off to eat my ragu and pasta and take my homemade carbon candy to give to those who have been naughty!!! 
What you will need:
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar divided, plus a little extra might be needed for thickening purposes
1 1/2-2 tsp. black gel food coloring such as Wilton brand
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

How to make:
Step 1:
  1. Whisk together 1 cup of the powdered sugar along with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  
  2. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar. The mixture should be very stiff as you whisk.  Pick up some of the batter with the whisk, and allow it to fall back into the bowl.  It should cling to the whisk when you pick up the batter, and fall in thick heavy pieces back into the bowl.  If it does not, add a little more powdered sugar until this consistency is achieved.
  3. Set aside while you cook the sugar (next step).
Step 2:
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
  1. Line an 8x8 (or similar size) heat-proof pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Combine water and sugar in a large non-stick saucepan.  Mix sugar and water together by stirring and mashing them together with a heat-proof spatula until it is the consistency of wet sand.  
  3. Insert a candy thermometer and let the mixture cook until it reaches 258-260 degrees.  The mixture will stay grainy and look weird and you might think you've done something wrong but you haven't.  When it's close to the 250 degree mark, the mixture may begin to lightly brown from cooking.  It should still be grainy and not in a liquid state.
  4. When 258-260 degrees is achieved, add the black egg white/powdered sugar mixture to the pot and stir (don't whisk) with a heat-proof spoon.  The mixture may foam, so be careful!  
  5. When thoroughly mixed, pour into the prepared pan and allow to stand until hardened.   When hardened, break into pieces with a chisel 

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