“Paula’s meraviglioso book is a feast for both the eyes and salivary glands. She covers all of Italy with an amazing range of dolci for all seasons.”
Ferenc Máté, New York Times Notable author of The Hills of Tuscany and award-winning Italian winemaker
“The photographs are so lush that you almost want to eat the book itself, but it’s the recipes that make or break the book and Paula’s are superb-and the most authentic I have seen in an English-language cookbook anywhere.”
Barry Kalb, Italian restaurateur, author and Time magazine journalist
(Read more and watch the video below.)
Watch a video preview of Desserts with Gusto
Featured video recipes, in order of appearance: Grape & nut tart, Cantucci, Schiacciata, Plum & almond tart, Red wine poached pears, Baci, Fig & chocolate tart, Ricotta cake, Fritelle, Venetian cornmeal cookies, Chocolate cherry Spumoni, Panna cotta with wine, Fig & honey pizza, Toffee & walnut biscotti, Plum polenta cake, Cenci, Lemon sorbetto, Walnut & Fig Crispbreads, Fior di latte, Amaretti
“To know a territory, you must eat it,” wrote the late Italian journalist and author Italo Calvino. This observation applies to his homeland like no other. It’s been said the essence of Italian cooking can be described using three words: simple, seasonal and regional. Italy is full of gastronomic regional specialties with each city possessing a culinary emblem, or coat of arms. Take panforte, for example. How fortunate was I to spend days sampling variations of this baked cluster of nuts and candied fruit in its hometown of Siena. If that’s not getting to know a territory, I don’t know what is. It’s over 20 years since I lived in Italy and taste-tested panforte on many weekends in Tuscany, but I’ve been exploring Italian food and recipes ever since. Many times in life I seemed to stumble upon yet another opportunity to learn, without even seeking it out.
After much deliberation, I chose to attend pastry school at the highly acclaimed Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. From there I once again found myself seeking out something with a touch of Italian flair, and so I wandered into Ecco Il Pane Bakery, a bakery in False Creek with design and ambience taken right from the heart of Italy. I felt at home there, even on the first day. It was early fall when I interviewed and as I toured the kitchen I saw pears caramelizing, plums baking in almond cream, and the most wonderful array of biscotti piled high on the wooden work bench like an Italian masterpiece.
This cookbook came to be because of two things: I love to eat and I love to travel. Many times two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one less traveled—all because someone had told me about a great restaurant at the end of it! No matter where backpackers converged, we always had one common denominator: food. I hope I can bring to you just a glimpse of what I’ve learned and loved over the years about desserts and baking. Join me as I share with you my journey through Italy, a country and a people that applauds a healthy appetite and a fondness for good food! And so, basta, enough said, as with that I bid you buon appetito!
Happy baking — with gusto!
I had the pleasure of photographing 90% of this book and wish to thank contributing photographers Jasalyn Thorne, Kathleen Almeida, Marco Vegni and Trevor Strand for their work. Grazie friends.