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Last week I set my chopsticks aside and packed my backpack for a four week European adventure. First stop: Italy. I could not wait to drown myself in everything Italian, including as much gelato as I could spoon down. Before I left I was inspired to throw together an Italian themed dessert. It had to be something simple and not too involved because it was sweltering hot out. What immediately sprung to mind was Spumoni: an Italian ice treat that was popular at my favorite pop up summer Italian ice shops on Long Island.
So what's spumoni you ask? Spumoni is a layered mix of ice cream in three flavors: chocolate, pistachio, and maraschino cherry. Kind of like the Neopolitan ice cream mix of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate that your grandmother would buy. (Us kids always got scolded for digging out the chocolate, didn't we?).
This is one of the simplest desserts to make at home. It's simply a layered ice cream terrine, so no cooking or baking is involved. Start by assembling your favorite chocolate and pistachio ice creams and let them soften just until malleable. The cherry layer is the only one you have to fuss with. For mine, I mixed plain vanilla ice cream with chopped maraschino cherries, crunchy almonds, cherry brandy (Kirsch), and a few dabs of pink food coloring. (Confession: I dabbed a few specks of green coloring into the pistachio). Then freeze the terrine until firm, unmold, and slice. The flavors complement each other, and, for those of us who remember, the colorful slabs of spumoni will transport you right back into that game Candyland.
So is spumoni authentic Italian? Well after traveling around Italy for a week, I've yet to see it in any gelato shop or restaurant, so the answer on my end will be probably not. But either way, the flavor combination is delicious, and the layered flag-like colors of this terrine makes a fun, colorful treat that's a step up from your typical bowl of ice cream.
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