Christmas gifts: Marco Failla's advice – Italian Cuisine

Christmas gifts: Marco Failla's advice


Three original ideas to make delicious last minute Christmas gifts at home: a chocolate mosaic, a pistachio liqueur and the typical Sicilian scaccio, reinterpreted by the talented Palermo cake designer

There are now a few days to go Christmas and, like every year, the hunt for last minute gift. An original idea is that of realize at home greedy edible gifts, following the advice of Marco Failla: «Giving a gift prepared with your own hands, says the Sicilian cake designer and food stylist, «is a way to make those who receive it feel special. At Christmas we all go back to being a bit children and something sweet is always welcome, especially if well presented and decorated ".

Three original ideas to do at home

The first proposal is a creamy liqueur based on Bronte pistachio, the green gold of Sicily, to be destined for a special person. "You will like it so much", says Marco, "that it will surely enter your secret recipe book". Another idea is the white chocolate mosaic, a large and colorful bar enriched with dried and candied fruit: "2020 was a busy year for everyone and we need comfort food, like this beautiful mosaic tablet to give as a gift, knotted with an elegant Burgundy ribbon and a gold hammer to break it in an emergency. ' The latest proposal, on the other hand, is inspired by an indelible childhood memory of Marco, the cinnamon scent of the Christmas stalls: "As a child, praline almonds were a little obsession of mine and I wanted to propose them in a" scaccio "version or the dried fruit of the Sicilian tradition, with the addition of cinnamon, my favorite spice .
For all the recipes Failla has used ingredients from its own land: pistachios, candied oranges, walnuts and above all almonds. "On one of my last trips to discover the hidden realities of Sicily, I met the Mandranova company, in the province of Agrigento, and I immediately appreciated the quality of its almonds (in particular the Tuono varieties, with a perfect and golden shape, and genco, with a full and decisive flavor), so much so that it is now one of the favorite ingredients for my creations .

Marco Failla's recipes

Chocolate mosaic (to break)

Ingredients

700 g of fine tempered white chocolate
Dried fruit and candied fruit to taste to compose the design

Method

Use a pan, making sure to line it with baking paper. The chocolate is tempered and poured into the pan and after waiting a few minutes you can gently place the chosen ingredients. Alternative to using the pan: repeat the same procedure with a sheet of baking paper. Compose the mosaic according to your taste and then, as soon as the chocolate has solidified, break the chocolate fragments to be placed in individual sachets. In this way you will have many little thoughts or gifts at the end of the dinner.

Bronte pistachio elixir

Ingredients (for about 1 liter)

500 ml of whole milk
200 g of sugar
100 ml of alcohol at 95 °
Bronte pistachio paste
1/2 empty vanilla bean or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Method

For the pistachio paste: put the shelled pistachios in a bowl with warm water and leave to rest for a couple of hours. Drain and rub with a cloth to remove the outer skin. Toast the pistachios for 15 minutes in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Subsequently, the pistachios must dry, for a day, in an airy and dry place. Put the pistachios in a blender with a spoonful of sweet almond oil. Operate the blender at maximum power for a few seconds, turn off and mix the pistachios with a spatula. Repeat the operation in several intervals to prevent the blades from heating up, this would prevent the pistachios from releasing their natural oil. Repeat until you get a homogeneous paste (even with a few grains will do the same). For the liqueur: in a saucepan bring milk, sugar, vanilla, pistachio paste and salt to the boil, stirring during the process. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn it off and let it cool completely. Once the mixture has cooled, add the alcohol, mixing with a whisk. Pour the liqueur obtained into the bottles. The liqueur should be kept in the fridge.

Scaccio praline

Ingredients

200 g of scaccio (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds)
200 g of granulated sugar
80 g of water
A teaspoon of cinnamon
The tip of a teaspoon of red food coloring

Method

Select dried fruit with skin. Pour the water, sugar and food coloring into a non-stick pan and, over medium heat, allow the sugar to dissolve slightly in the water, then add the almonds. Stir occasionally with a wooden ladle. When the sugar is completely dissolved and starts to boil, stir more frequently. As the water evaporates, the almonds will tend to join together. When the sugar becomes solid again and the almonds are all separated from each other, add the cinnamon, remove the pan from the heat and put the almonds to cool in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. When they have cooled, place in a glass jar to decorate as you like.

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