What real use am I to you, the reader, if I don’t endeavour to transport you to another place?
If that place isn’t a hillside in Tuscany, then why would you even bother to read on?
And do these recipes really serve any purpose if the melodies fail to be as cathartic as that first bite of soft Tuscan rice cake with brown butter and frosted hazelnuts?
All valid questions.
Shopping list (serves 6 comfortably)
Hazelnut “milk” x 1 litre
Arborio rice x 150g
Caster sugar x 180g
Eggs x 8
Butter x 100g (+ extra for greasing)
Semolina x 30g
Hazelnuts (soaked in boiled water for at least one hour & roughly chopped) x 30g
Pinch of salt
Hazelnuts (soaked in boiled water for at least one hour) x 30g
Caster sugar x 30g
Water x 2 tbsp
For the frosted nuts, simply boil the sugar and water over a medium heat in a small saucepan for no more than five minutes. Once you have a syrup, add the nuts, coat well and then pour onto a plate to cool to completely.
Once cooled, grind and chop the mixture into a rough powder with a knife and set aside.
Set your oven to 180°C (fan)/200°C.
Grease the inside of a 20cm deep cake tin with butter, then pour in the semolina. Carefully rotate and turn the tin to ensure an even coating of semolina, before discarding any that doesn’t stick.
In another small saucepan, fry the butter gently for just over five minutes until it has started to turn brown. Remove from the heat at this point.
In a large saucepan, bring the milk, brown butter and rice to the boil with a pinch of salt. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and sieve the mixture, retaining the milk. Leave to cool for 20 minutes.
Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs until pale yellow and foaming. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whisk for a further five minutes. Add the brandy and whisk well before folding through the rice and chopped hazelnuts. Add the milk and continue to fold with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Pour into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes, before sprinkling the frosted hazelnuts over the cake. Serve warm, with a coffee.