One-Minute Dinner Party Desserts, from Sicily with Amore

January 20, 2012

I went to a dinner party not long ago at the dark and windswept edge of what locals call the Sea of Africa. The Sicilian host served a salmon antipasto. Then out came a tasty tomato-and-white-wine pasta followed by chicken involtini and perfect roast potatoes. Elegantissimo.

For dessert he tore open a package of chocolate supermarket cookies and passed the box around the table. A cute and quirky grand finale. Something about it said “We are famiglia.”

Here’s an idea for a slightly more elegant dessert that I’ve also had here. It’s almost as simple. Buy a good cheese or two (Gorgonzola, Parmigiano, or goat cheese, for instance). Pair the cheese with a dollop of interesting honey (maybe something more upscale than the  plastic bear?). You could add a fig or a date or a few pear slices if you’re feeling fancy. Serve with Sicilian moscato, port, or another round of wine.


Cheese and honey for dessert, copyright Jann Huizenga

Do you have a simple dessert recipe to share?

26 comments to One-Minute Dinner Party Desserts, from Sicily with Amore

  • Therese

    A few years ago I had surprise guests and wanted to quickly come up with something to have them nibble on while I made dinner. Water crackers, crumbled blue cheese or a good stiff parm, with honey drizzled on it. Everyone loves it and asks for it now!

  • Jann, I had cacciacavalo con miele in a restaurant in piazza duomo in Ibla and never forgot it! So yummy! I love making cannoli, especially easy if you have access to good fresh shells and good ricotta then it’s super easy. Just mix with some sugar or honey and vanilla….fill the shells and then i dip 1 end in dark chocolate shavings and the other in chopped pistachio nuts. I do it table side so my guests can join in the fun and can make special requests. (the chocoholics always ask for double ended chocolate)

    When I can’t find good ricotta I make it myself and it is pretty darn easy! Alternatively filling the shells with ice cream are always a hit and 1 time i split some small italian plums (you know the purple elongated ones) and filled them with some leftover cannoli filling. So delicious i tried to come up with a name for them…perhaps plummoli??? Great post Jann there are some great ideas here!

    • Jann

      Hi Liana–thank you for this idea of having guests make their own cannoli at the table! I can just imagine the fun and mess and goodness. I’ve also made ricotta from scratch once or twice. As I recall you need a gallon of milk to come out with about 2-4 cups of ricotta, and it is not hard.

  • sandee wheeler

    I like to think that nothing can hold a candle to a simple Dove Promises melting in my mouth, but after reading about your simple dessert, I am anxious to try it!!

  • Pina Marra

    Dear Jann,
    your articles are always so interesting…
    Another idea for a quick winter dessert is to divide dates into halves, remove the stone, put some “mascarpone” cheese inside and decorate with half nut. I’m not a good cook but I make them every Christmas and everybody likes them…

  • Dennis Berry

    Helena in Palermo sliced oranges, covered them with cointreau and broke in big chunks of cinnamon refrigerate for a few hours. Very friendly!!!!!!

  • Marie Clayton

    Ciao Jann and greetings all the way from Valentine in New South Wales, Australia. Love this article. I love serving antipasto – so italian and a belissimo way to eat! Lots of yummy australian and italian style cheeses served with walnuts and dried apricots. With that, I serve home made turkey meatballs, slices of salami and steamed brocolli, beans and baby asparagus, drizzles with olive oil, lemon juice, salt/pepper and a squeeze of fresh garlic, served cold and with crusty bread. Lets not forget the roasted capsicum, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Also love to make cannoli on ricotta whisked with icing sugar, almond essence and little chocolate drops mixed throughout – mmmm!!!! It’s great to be sicilian, food is sooooo appreciated!
    Keep your wonderful articles coming, I so look forward them!!! ciao bella…from Maria X

    • Jann

      Marie, I want to live in YOUR house! I was just reading a part of Robert Camuso’s Palmento where he says something like: Sicilians may still put up with 3rd-world like services and what-not, but they eat far better–and take it as their God-given right–than almost anyone on the planet.

  • Oh, a package of dry Italian biscuits works for me when it comes to easy. I’ve discovered bags of them at the little grocery store down the street selling for cheap and have been raving about them to my friends and family…who all thought I was nuts until they tried them. But tonight I made a batch of cranberry brownies, no icing involved, so easy enough to make, and far too easy to eat.

    • Jann

      By “dry Italian biscuits” are you referring to “biscotti”? Those long really dry cookies that nearly break your teeth off? Yes, they’re great, and what’s maybe best about them is that they’re NOT so easy to eat (as your brownies) so you take your time and don’t scarf down too many mindlessly.

  • Jann, three years ago in Sansepolcro, in the southeast of Tuscany, bordering Umbria I was introduced to eating pecorino with honey- chestnut or orange honey is particularly good.

    I am not a great one for spending time making desserts, but it is summer in Australia and I particularly like to make Gelu ‘i muluni (Gello di melllone in Italian – watermelon jelly) – an old Sicilian recipe and once a popular dessert.

    As a child living in Trieste it was always called watermelon, anguria as it is called in the north, but when we visited Sicily (my family went there every summer), it was called mellone (also melone).

    The addition of the extra flavourings – vanilla, cinnamon, rose water, chocolate and pistachio transform the taste of what is basically liquefied watermelon juice solidified with corn-starch/flour. Many Sicilians say that this dessert has Arab origins and it is easy to see why.

    Although this dessert is very easy to make, it does look very attractive and your guests will think that you have gone to a lot of effort – much more so than just serving up slices of watermelon. Full recipe and photo on my blog.

  • Jann, I say give me a cannoli or panna cotta and I’m ecstatic! Although your cheese and honey also sounds quite tasty! And now I’m hungry! 🙂

  • Jann,
    all I can really say is “Elegantissimo!”


  • catherine billups

    I love cheese and honey and the flavored honeys created by Corrado Assenza and sold in his wonderful Caffe Sicilia are the best. First tasted this honey in a restaurant with the great chef Accursio Craparo who is now at La Gazza Ladra in Modica.

  • Hi Jann, I am not a great sweet tooth but my favourite dessert just happens to be super easy – if you’re passing by a certain panificio in Puglia that is…. I can’t leave Vieste ( where my little girl has all her father’s family) without a big bag of the local Peperati (sort of like big, spicy chocolate taralli). They make a perfect end to a meal dipped into some Moscato like you suggest or any wine you fancy really – sweet or otherwise! Yum. And thanks again for your gorgeous blog! J

    • Jann

      Janine, those Peperati sound mighty enticing–just like Puglia itself. Thanks so much for your compliment.

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