Campari-spiked Desserts to Welcome in the Holiday

Camapari nibbles
With the holidays upon us, sometimes you simply need a good stiff cocktail to ease the stress or wait, perhaps a soothing dessert would better calm the nerves?  Alas, simplify your life by combining the two! These boozy Campari spiked desserts will keep your friends and (adult) family members calm and happy.  Their simplicity will help you keep your sanity in the midst of holiday chaos. 
A recipe I spotted in my recent issue of La Cucina Italiana inspires the Campari nibbles.  They require just a bit of planning ahead as you must allow the first layer of gelatin to solidify before adding the top layer but short of that, they are a breeze to prepare.  Their not-too-sweet taste is the perfect light ending to a meal.  I used a simple gelatin mold to shape them but use any shape that you may fancy.
The poached pears are another simple but festive way to infuse a little kick and color in your holiday desserts.  The Campari gives the pears a beautiful pink hue. Go all out and serve with a bit of whipped sweetened mascarpone. Sprinkle with mint leave and your pears will be elevated to stardom. 
As we head into the busy holiday season, may these recipes make your life just a bit sweeter and may your table be filled with the voices of loved ones near and far.  ‘ A tavola, non s’invecchia.’ At the table, one does not grow old.  
Happy holidays!
Camapari nibblesCamapari nibbles
Campari Nibbles
(Adapted from La Cucina Italiana, Ottobre 2016)
For the orange gelatin:
• 1 ½ cups orange juice
• ¼ cup cold water
• 2 packages gelatin (1/2 ounce) 
For the Campari gelatin:
• 1 ½ cups Campari
• ¼ cup cold water
• 2 packages gelatin (1/2 ounce)
• 1 orange, for garnish
• Special Equipment:
• Gelatin molds
1. Lightly oil the gelatin molds using a mild flavored oil such as sunflower. 
2. Prepare the orange gelatin:  Pour the orange juice into a small saucepan and warm over medium low heat.  In the meantime, add the cold water to a bowl large enough to accommodate the orange juice and the water.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water to allow to bloom. 
Once the orange juice is warmed but not boiling, pour over the gelatin mixture and whisk to combine.  Pour the orange juice mixture into the molds, filling half way.  Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to solidify. 
3. Repeat for the Campari gelatin:  Pour the Campari into a small saucepan and warm over medium low heat.  In the meantime, add the cold water to a bowl large enough to accommodate the Campari and the water.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water to allow to bloom. 
4. Once the Campari is warmed but not boiling, pour over the gelatin mixture and whisk to combine.  Pour the Campari mixture into the molds, filling to the top.  Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to solidify. 
5. Remove the Campari cubes from the mold onto a plate.  Slice the orange crosswise and cut away any ring.  Cut the slices into small segments for garnish. Place on top of the Campari cubes and serve!
Negroni poached pearsNegroni poached pears
Negroni Poached Pears
• 1 cup Campari
• 1 cup gin
• 1 cup sweet vermouth
• ½ cup water
• ¼ cup sugar
• 3 or so strips orange peel (white part only)
• 4 small Bosc pears
• 1 lemon, cut in half
1. Find a heavy pot large enough to accommodate the pears on their sides. Add the Campari, gin, sweet vermouth, water, sugar and orange peels.  Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Cover and reduce heat to low.
2. Peel the pears using a vegetable peeler, leaving the stem intact.  Rub the pears with the cut lemon halves to prevent them from browning. Cut a thin slice off the bottom to allow the pears to stand straight. Core the pears from the bottom.  Add the pears to the pot and cook until the pears are soft but firm, about 20 minutes depending on the size of your pot and pears.  Give the pears a turn every 5 minute or so to allow them to soak in the liquid.  
3. Remove the pears from the liquid with a slotted spoon a place on a plate.  Allow the pears to cool. Refrigerate until cold.
4. Simmer the remaining poaching liquid over medium heat until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. 
Place a pear on a plate and using a spoon, drizzle the Negroni syrup over the pear.  Serve with a bit of whipped mascarpone or ice cream on the side. 
Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Italian. Together, from opposite coasts, they co-author the blog 


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