Grace’s Sweet LifeHomemade Italian Desserts from Cannoli, Biscotti, and Tiramisu to Torte, Tartufi, and Struffoli

The secrets to Italy’s most delicious, homemade Italian desserts
are revealed! Mouth-Watering Recipes That Bring The Most Delicious Italian Desserts To Your Own Oven.

Buon appetito!

No one loves food more than the Italians. Every meal is a celebration, but the highlight of every dinner is that moment when grandma brings out one of her famously delicious desserts. Now author Grace Massa-Langlois shows you how to make classic homemade Italian treats just like grandma. From espresso-rich tiramisu, cannoli overflowing with ricotta or rich and creamy tartufo, Grace’s Sweet Life presents the 75 most popular, reader-tested recipes from the author’s popular website. The easy-to-follow recipes break down each traditional technique into simple steps so even the most complex Italian treat can be made perfectly. This cute little package also includes mouth-watering full-color photos of a wide range of treats from well-known favorites like biscotti and panforte to little-known foodie delights such as sfogliatelle and zeppole.

Grace Massa-Langlois was born in Belgium to Italian parents. She grew up in London, Ontario, where she now lives with her two children. In April 2010, she launched her website,, where she shares recipes, stories about her Italian heritage, and the joy of growing up in a large, close knit family. Her daughter photographs all the desserts, while her son holds the enviable position of being the official taste-tester.

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  Torta all’Arancia (Orange Cake)

Crema di Ricotta (Ricotta Cream)

 Torta all’Arancia (Orange Cake)


Makes 1 (10-inch) cake


This light, moist, citrusy cake is one of my favorites. It rises nice and high and it’s very easy to make. I especially enjoy serving it at coffee time. When I was working, I would get a call from my sister almost every day in the late afternoon and she would ask, “Coffee time?” My answer was always yes! We would go to our mother’s house, where we were always greeted with the most amazing aroma of freshly percolated coffee, pizzelle, or cakes just like this one. And we never left empty-handed. My mother would send us on our way with freshly made sugo di pomodoro (tomato sauce), lasagne, cannelloni, or fresh bread. I look forward to these types of rituals, not because of all the goodies, but because it’s a time to catch up and spend quality time with my family. I believe it’s one of the reasons our large family remains so close.



Uno – Cake

6 large eggs

2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (255 g) superfine sugar, divided

grated zest of 2 oranges

1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar



due – Syrup

1½ cups (355 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice

½ cup (113 g) superfine sugar

zest of 1 orange in large strips (make sure no pith is attached)

½ vanilla bean, split and seeded

2 to 3 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur



Uno – To make the cake

1. Separate the cold eggs. Place the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a stand mixer. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.


2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Very lightly coat with butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tube pan with feet and removable bottom.


3. Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine well.


4. Use a handheld mixer to beat the egg yolks, oil, vanilla, and 1 cup (225 g) sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.


5. Beat in the orange zest and juice.


6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating to just combine

(do not overmix).


7. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, beginning at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high. When the whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar. At the soft-peak stage, add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 g) sugar.


8. Using a large flexible spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten the batter, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.


9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula.


10. Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.


11. Remove from the oven and immediately invert the pan onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely in the pan upside down on the rack.


12. While the cake bakes, prepare the orange syrup.



Due – To make the syrup

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the orange juice, sugar, orange zest, and the vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.


2. Reduce the heat to low, add the liqueur, and continue to simmer until the syrup reduces and thickens slightly about 5 minutes.


3. Remove from the heat and strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a pourable container. Allow the syrup to cool slightly.



Tre – To assemble an d serve

1. Flip the cake pan over, carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the pan, and turn the cake out onto a serving plate or cake stand.


2. To serve, place the cake on dessert plates and serve with warm orange syrup.



Crema di Ricotta (Ricotta Cream)


Makes about 3½ cups


This filling can be made one day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Crema di ricotta is the filling used in the coveted Cannoli Siciliani (page 137) but it is very versatile. Use it as a filling for rolled brandy snaps, sandwich cookies, zeppole, cupcakes (page 77), tarts, millefoglie (page 86) or pizzelle cups (page 93). If using to fill tarts or pizzelle cups, garnish with fresh fruit or berry compote. Omit the chocolate chips and candied citrus and fold in 1 to 1½ cups whipped cream for a lighter version perfect for serving over macerated berries or crumbles.



3 cups (660 g) fresh ricotta, drained overnight

1⅓ to 1½ cups (167 g to 188 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

⅓ cup (50 g) finely diced candied citron or candied orange peel, or a combination (optional)

⅓ cup (80 g) miniature semisweet chocolate chips



1. Place the drained ricotta in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.


2. Add 1⅓ cups (167 g) confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla. Beat until fluffy and very smooth, about 4 minutes. Taste, add the remaining confectioners’ sugar as needed, and beat until smooth.


3. Stir in the candied citrus, if using, and the chocolate chips.


4. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Sorbetto al Lampone (Raspberry Sorbet)

Makes 1 quart (32 ounces)


Sorbetto is a water-based Italian ice cream. It is light, refreshing and it serves as a non-fat or low-fat alternative to gelato. Sorbetto is often confused with granita but the textures are different. Granita has large size ice crystals giving it a crunchier texture whereas the texture of sorbetto is more like gelato, creamier. Enjoy sorbetto served in summer cocktails, floats, and fruit salad, with a few crunchy cookies like biscotti, or serve scooped in homemade pizzelle cups or cones (see page 93). It’s also popular as a palate cleanser between the courses of a meal.


1 cup (240 ml) bottled or filtered water

1 cup (225 g) superfine sugar

4 cups (492 g) raspberries

1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 ounces (60 milliliters) vodka

1 large egg white


1. To make the sugar syrup, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside to cool.


2. In a blender or food processor, process the raspberries and lemon juice to a smooth purée. Strain the purée through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds (discard the solids).


3. Stir the purée into the cooled sugar syrup, and then stir in the vodka.


4. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.


5. Immediately before churning the sorbet, use a handheld mixer to beat the egg white at high speed to stiff peaks. Fold the whipped egg white into the cooled raspberry mixture.


6. To ensure a seed-free or almost seed-free sorbet, strain the mixture again through a fine-mesh sieve into a pourable container.


7. Pour the raspberry mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. The sorbet will still be fairly soft but it will become firmer as it freezes.


8. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.


9. To serve the sorbet at its best, remove from the freezer and transfer to the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Sorbet should be served slightly soft, with a creamy consistency similar to that of soft serve ice cream.

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