Zippy Summer Dessert:: Espresso Caramel Sauce

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Today I’m sharing a zippy summer dessert recipe for espresso caramel sauce. I made it for friends in Italy a few years ago, and I might have to recreate it again soon. It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!

Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8 on ice cream or pound cake
You will need:

– 1 cup sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream

To prepare:

Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.

Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.

To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.

Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.

xx Annette

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Italy Workshop excursions :: Custom Textile Studio in Florence – meet Margherita Pandolfini

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One of the many wonderful things about conducting creative retreats in Italy is all of the available talent around our area. Florence is about 2 hours from our doorstep; it’s a beautiful drive or train ride, so the time just speeds by.

I was contacted by the lovely and talented textile designer Margherita Pandolfini, and she invited me to bring my workshop to her gorgeous studio on the outskirts of Florence, located in the middle of the most beautiful courtyard I’ve ever seen. Sometimes opportunities appear that are just unreal here in Italy. Margherita, greeted us at the meticulously handpainted door which foreshadowed the magical storybook journey through the courtyard up some rickety stairs into her surreal world high a top a centuries old building. The loft studio had the most glorious view of the Villa courtyard and gardens. It was a courtyard that could inspire anyone to create beautiful, whimsical, playful patterns of her and her partner’s company MK Textiles and Atelier. Sometimes the wonky creative spaces are by far the most inspiring to me. This space was one of those places that spoke to me.

Margherita, set up painting stations for our attendees, and then gave a brief demo, so we had plenty of time to paint our own cloth bags. As the birds chirped and the sun shined on the incredible view, we happily painted away all morning long.

Please make sure to visit their site and if you have the chance schedule a time to visit.

I have invited Margherita and her partner to Atlanta to speak at Americasmart, too, so please stay tuned for those dates.

In the meantime, look for these beautiful textiles out and about in London and Florence.

xx Annette

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Strictly Styling Workshop June 2018 a recap

As many of you already know, we have been working like crazy to get the Fortress ready for upcoming workshops. Our maiden run was last week for our strictly styling workshop. Needless to say, I was a little anxious to see how our new guest quarters stacked up. I painlessly attended to every detail. Sticking to the idea that less is more and that the ancient walls would speak for themselves. Making sure the beds were comfortable, and the sheets were soft and inviting. Crossing fingers that our bathrooms – which are wet rooms – worked the way we wanted them to. They did.

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Our attendees were a super talented group that consisted of a florist, bloggers and foodstylists, and the stylish owner of a PR firm. This group instantly bonded, and the bond grew tighter as I watched them help and advise each other throughout the their days together. Our team building event of hiking into a waterfall was such fun, and it really showed off the natural beauty around us. We had a picnic, and we chatted and shared our goals and desires throughout the week. All the our days were filled with endless possibilities and inspiration.

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This time I tried something a little different and incorporated a textile painting workshop into the mix. We traveled to Florence for the day to meet Margherita Pandolfini at the studio she shares with partner Karl Jorns.

We had an amazing visit, painted textiles and then headed for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Florence. La Menagere.

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After an absolutely stellar, lunch we met up with our tour guide and walked all over Florence with our group ending up at the David. I had not seen the David in so many years; it was fun to see him again.

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We grabbed an aperitivo, and then ended our visit to Florence attending a Sunday Supper’s Sobremesa is a global dinner.

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We ate in what was a former glove factory, with a gathering of creatives from all over the world. The lovely Gaia Cozzi and her adorable father prepared everything and were the perfect hosts. We had a great time with everyone and ended the evening with lots of stories to tell and a fun ride back to the Lunigiana recapping our day.

The workshop was a huge success making it hard to part ways. My hope is all of our workshops will be like this one, and the creative juices will keep flowing.

If you would like to join us in the fall we have a couple of places left in our workshops. They are closing end of July so think fast and join us in September and October. Sign-up here.

xx Annette

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Summer Dessert:: Easy Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

I don’t know about you, but peach cobbler is one of my favorite summer desserts. We have gorgeous peaches back home in Georgia, but when the peaches are allowed to ripen on the trees as they do here in Italy, the fragrance really infuses the peach dishes. It’s divine.

As we dip further into the summer months, you’ll notice more and more peaches at your local grocery stores and markets. I bet you’ll actually notice the lovely scent before you see the fruits themselves.

Here’s my quick and easy peach cobbler recipe. This dish is perfect for your summer gatherings (and 4th of July cookouts). Don’t forget to top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Let me know if you give it a try.

Easy Peach Cobbler
Serves 6-8

You will need:

– 8 ripened peaches cut into wedges
– 1/4 cup sugar
– 2 cups flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup butter cut into small cubes
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup cold water

To Prepare:

Preheat the over to 375 degrees F.

Wash and cut the peaches into wedges and toss with 1/4 cup sugar, set aside.

In a large bowl combine flower, baking powder, salt, butter, and sugar. With your hands, knead the ingredients until the dough becomes sandy then add water and combine until the dough pulls together. The dough should be soft.

In a ceramic baking dish place the peaches (I like an oval 9″:  9″ x 6 1/2″ x 1 3/4″ high; 1-qt. cap.), and then cover the top with the dough. The dough should be rustic and look cobbled. Place dish into the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until peaches are bubbling, and the cobbler is golden brown.

Enjoy warm with ice cream, whip cream, or at room temperature.

Photo Credit: Me

 

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Boozy Summer Dessert:: Campari Sorbet

Campari Sorbet

As you all know by now, one of my favorite Italian aperitivo/digestivo is Campari. So, it should come as no surprise that I figured out a way to incorporate it into dessert.

This boozy summer dessert, better known as Campari Sorbet, is ideal for the long, hot days of summer. The color is fun, the taste is interesting, and the texture is divine. It’s the perfect compliment to any summer party or cookout you might be planning.

Since this sorbet is made with alcohol, it will remain soft. Plan to freeze it overnight and eat within minutes of serving. For the kids, skip the Campari and stick with just the orange juice. That way they can participate in the fun, too!

Campari Sorbet
Serves 8

You will need: 
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar
– 3 Tbsp. orange zest 3 oranges, I use a microplane
– 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (squeeze it yourself; it’s worth it)
– 3/4 cup Campari

To prepare:

In a sauce pan combine water, sugar and zest, making a simple syrup

Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and cool

Add Campari and orange juice to the syrup. You need to chill in the refrigerator at this point, the colder the better before adding it to the ice cream maker

Place into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions, place into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, put into the freezer until ready to serve.

*Note: this will be a soft sorbet because of the alcohol in the Campari, so chill overnight for best texture.

xx Annette

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