The Sweet Fruits of Summer

I love when the warm weather rolls around, as summer in Italy brings a wealth of deliciously ripe fruits and a variety of mouthwatering ways to serve them. Below are some of my favorite suggestions. For a delicious and refreshing summer pasta, try my Spaghetti al Limone and since you can never go wrong with the versatile citrus fruit, I have included my favorite recipe for Lemon Chicken.

Those looking for a cool, healthy treat, will love a bowl of White Peach Granita, an icy dessert from Sicily that is full of fruit and little else.

Fresh raspberries are a wonderful treat on their own, but they are even better when baked in delightful cupcakes and sprinkled with white sugar, rather than gooey icing. These light and airy treats not only make a great dessert, but can also be served for an afternoon brunch.

Italian Cream Cake with Blueberries is a scrumptious dessert that is perfect for your next summer gathering. Creamy and delicious, this cake will not disappoint.

White Peach Granita

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 pound ripe peaches, unpeeled
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 drop vanilla extract

Preparation

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the peaches and sugar and simmer gently 30 minutes. Allow the peaches to cool thoroughly in the liquid and pass the contents of the pan through a fine-mesh strainer, scraping the solids to extract as much pulp as possible. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract and freeze 45 minutes to 1 hour, scraping the ice crystals that form around the edges into the center every 10 minutes with a spatula. The mixture should be of an even, grainy consistency when ready. To serve, scoop the granita into chilled serving glasses and garnish with mint leaves.

Sugar Crusted Raspberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries

Preparation

Heat oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or coat it with cooking spray, vegetable oil, or butter.

In a medium bowl, combine 1-3/4 cups of the flour, ½ cup of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Add the butter and combine. In a second bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined; the batter will be lumpy. Toss the berries with the remaining flour in a bowl. Gently fold the berry mixture into the batter.

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle the batter with the remaining sugar. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Italian Cream Cake with Blueberries

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon white vinegar)

Frosting:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 ½ pints blueberries

Preparation

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, oil and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla and coconut.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Alternate adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined and then fold in the egg whites.

Pour evenly into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Then turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

For the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the pecans and coconut.

To assemble: Cut each cake in half lengthwise so you are left with 4 layers. Spread the first layer with frosting and top with blueberries. Repeat the cake, frosting and blueberry layers until you have 4 layers of cake. Arrange more blueberries around the edge of each layer for structure.