pane zebra

Such a luxurious breakfast!

 I love croissants as much as anyone, but they take so long to make! This is a little recipe that I made up called “Pane Zebra,” or Zebra Brioche. It is super simple and easy to make, and looks so elegant and fancy! All of those thin, delicate little strips of chocolate really add something special to these sweet, fluffy breakfast rolls, which is why I named them Pane Zebra. These rolls have a base of Cuban Pane Suave, a delicious sweet roll from the island of Cuba, which can be made super easily in the bread machine. I filled it with a cocoa block and rolled it out multiple times to get the striped chocolate effect. Your morning will certainly be brightened by these little stripes of chocolate.
With love, Erica

An assortment of rolls and croissants
Look at those zebra stripes!

Bread Machine Pan Suave
Adapted from Cuban Pan Suave

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus a little more for egg glaze
  • 4 to 5 cups bread or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used poppy seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Cocoa Block :
Adapted from Last but not Furno
1 egg  white (keep the yolk for an egg wash later)
1/4 cup all purpose flour  
1/4 cup sugar  
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) milk  
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 tablespoon butter 

  • Add the ingredients for the pan suave in the order directed by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle. 
  • Prepare the Cocoa Block: In a bowl put the egg white with the sugar and flour and stir to obtain a smooth and creamy consistency . Pour the milk in a saucepan and bring to boil, add the cocoa and stir quickly. Add the egg white mixture and stir and cook until thick. 
  • Quickly add the butter and stir. Let cool at room temperature.  
  • Put the cocoa mixture between two sheets of plastic film and press to form a square (you can use a rolling pin) and then put it into the fridge. 
  • Once the dough cycle is done,  deflate the dough and roll it out in a rectangle on a floured surface. Place the cocoa block into the center and fold into Thirds, starting with the top third then fold the bottom third of the rectangle up over the dough. Rotate it 90 degree (That I know the narrow end faces you, keeping the seam on your right) and roll out again (1-2-3-4). Fold the dough I know That the two short edges meet in the center and then fold the dough in half, like a book. Rotate it 90 degrees (you have four layers and the the seam is on your right). Roll out the dough again (5-6-7-8). (See Diagram) 
  •  Cut the dough into 1/2in strips and roll to form the rolls or cut into triangles and shape into croissants (9-10). 
  • Put Them on a baking sheet and the rise for about 1 hour.
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown

funfetti cupcakes for two

After making my chocolate cupcakes for two, I was inspired to make another mini batch of cupcakes. This time, I was in the mood for Funfetti cupcakes. I love sprinkles in my birthday cake — they make a boring (but delicious) vanilla cake a million times more fun! Because life is so much more fun in color 🙂
I decided to go all out and topped mine with a fun hodgepodge of sprinkles (hey, this is funfetti right?!) — which included little pink dinosaurs, mini race cars, and a bunch of other loud, sparkly sprinkles. Looks like a party to me!
With love, Erica
Cupcakes
Adapted From Chocolate and Carrots
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon skim milk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat the canola oil, egg, milk, vanilla extract, and sugar together.
  3. Add in the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in the sprinkles. Don’t over stir.
  5. Pour into two prepared muffin liners in a muffin pan.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
 Vanilla Buttercream Frosting for Two
Adapted from Sweet Peony
1/4 cup (1/2) stick unsalted butter, softened
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

 
In a medium bowl, beat butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar together using a hand mixer.  When combined and fluffy, add 2 teaspoons water and the vanilla and mix until combined.  If the frosting is too stiff, add more water.  If the frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar. Frost your cupcakes, and top with fun sprinkles!

chocolate cupcakes for two

Ever find yourself in the mood for a cupcake? A nice, rich, moist, chocolate cupcake? But you don’t have the time/ingredients/need for an entire batch of 12? I found myself in one of those moods, and I wanted a quick, no-mess, recipe that would give me two cupcakes, one for me, and one to share. And here it is! I topped these luscious chocolate-y cupcakes with a chocolate buttercream that had just a hint of coffee — because I believe there are few better flavor combinations than coffee and chocolate.  I love the idea of making cupcakes in batches of two, as extra cupcakes are not the easiest thing to pop in my bag and share with friends (especially with all of that pretty icing!). So relax, and enjoy a batch of cupcakes just for you and someone special, and for once don’t worry about what you’ll do with the extras.
 With love, Erica

Adapted from Manhattan Craft Room

Chocolate Cupcakes for Two
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/16 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a second small bowl or spouted measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and stir till combined, whisking well. Add the chocolate chips (who doesn’t love extra chocolate?!). Bake for 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting
*you may have a little bit of frosting leftover, as I like my cupcakes with a lot of icing!

  • 1-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons dry milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar, cocoa, and coffee. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

The Perfect Cream Puff

Sometimes, the best baked treats come not from the popular, hip bakeries of the city (ex. Georgetown Cupcake and Magnolia Bakery), but rather come from those little specialty stores that may not even have a name. I had the honor of discovering one of these places today in New York City. After having a quick shot of espresso at Café Zaiya, I ventured next door, to a little Japanese grocery store that I think is called Yagura. In the front of the store, there was a little lady set up with a stand, selling fresh cream puffs. They were so fresh, she piped the cream into the puff right as you ordered it. Simple as that. There were only two things that one could order at this little stand – plain, and azuki cream puffs. But this lady sure knew what she was doing! I ordered the plain cream puff, and it was the best cream puff I have ever tasted. It had a thin, crispy, lighter –than-air puff, with a delicate, eggy flavor filled with flawlessFrench pastry cream with just the perfect amount of vanilla. Delicately dusted with just enough powdered sugar – this cream puff was a work of art. I hope that next time you find yourself in the city, this little lady will still be whipping up her delicious, perfect cream puffs. 
With love, Erica
 
Freshly baked choux, before being piped with pastry cream

The simple beauty of the cream puff

Look at that light and fluffy texture!

Salted Nutella Cookies

I’m a big fan of the chocolate+salt combination (think Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies). I am an even bigger fan of Nutella (one of the best inventions ever). In these perfect little cookies, the beloved chocolatey, creamy, hazelnut spread is balanced with the savory, coarse sea salt — a match made in heaven. 
With Love, Erica



Ingredients:
1 1/2  cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup Nutella
1/3 cup milk
Coarse Salt

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder.
  2. In a separate bowl or a standing mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the vanilla and Nutella to the sugar-butter mixture.
  4. In 2 additions (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients) add the milk and dry ingredients. 
  5. Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 min. 
  6. Take the dough out of the fridge, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 
  7. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slightly press down each of the balls and sprinkle with sea salt. 
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes
  9. Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk. 🙂

ratatouille and rosemary breadsticks

Hi there!
Welcome to my new blog, Cannella Vita. Instead of boring you all with a bunch of info about this blog (which I will probably do in a post soon to come!), or an “about me” post (which is also on its way!). I thought it would be nice to jump right in and inspire you all with one of my favorite comfort recipes — a colorful ratatouille with delicious, homemade, chewy breadsticks brushed with EVOO, sea salt, and fragrant rosemary. I don’t really like all of the heavy cream and cheese that goes into some versions of ratatouille — so I created this recipe that has no cheese, and tons of flavor! Hopefully you all can warm up in this chilly month with this nice ratatouille. As delicious as it is on its own, I also love to use the leftover ratatouille in sandwiches — a great lunch to pack for school or work! Enjoy! 
With love, Erica

Look at all the vivid colors — simple vegetables baked together and enhanced with delicious, fragrant herbs and olive oil









Ratatouille
as envisioned by Erica


1 onion, finely chopped
2 squirts amore garlic paste concentrate (I highly recommend this, I HATE chopping garlic cause it makes your hands smell all garlicky — I get mine at the local Balduccis)
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Dried Basil
Dried Rosemary
Dried Oregano
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Pour tomato sauce into bottom of an oval baking dish. Squirt the garlic paste into the bottom of the dish add the chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices.
On top of the tomato sauce, arrange slices of your vegetables from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, alternating vegetables and making a pretty pattern 🙂
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt pepper, and the Italian herbs. Add the sprigs of fresh thyme on top.
Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not completely limp.
Enjoy with some rice, on a sandwich, with my homemade breadsticks. (recipe follows)


Erica’s Homemade Breadsticks

For the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. instant yeast
1¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup milk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
For the glaze:
2 squirts amore garlic paste concentrate
3 tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. rosemary
Sea Salt

To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients.  Add the olive oil, milk and water.  Mix until ingredients have formed a dough.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 10-inch long rope. Put ropes on a  baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.
To make the glaze, squirt the garlic paste into a bowl.  Mix with the melted butter and rosemary.
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy freshly baked, breadsticks 🙂