I have a stepfamily who is, in no uncertain terms, Italian. Large gatherings of family in our home are commonplace for any and all events, from the most trivial of birthdays and sports team drafts to the all-out Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve (which also happens to correlate with my stepfather’s birthday on the 23rd). Weeknight meals are almost exclusively Italian fare, although not the “spaghetti and meatballs” and “pizza” so much as rigatoni with rapini and oysters, gnocchi with plain tomato sauce and Parmesan and codfish with spicy peppers and potatoes, Sicilian style. Where my stepfamily hits all the right “traditional” notes in their savoury cooking, sweets and desserts (while definitely enjoyed) are almost exclusively store-bought. From cannoli and cakes to tartufo, if it’s a special event you can bet that somebody paid the local Italian bakery a visit.
While there is nothing wrong with store-bought pastry once in awhile, homemade desserts are almost exclusively better tasting and better for you. The problem arises when tradition comes into play and the old recipes of your nonna’s are either long gone or so outdated that modern appliances and ingredients don’t apply. Enter Grace Massa Langois, with her book Grace's Sweet Life: Homemade Italian Desserts from Cannoli, Biscotti, and Tiramisu to Torte, Tartufi, and Struffoli. The book’s mission is really to build on the passionate blog started by Massa Langois and make those classical Italian treats more approachable for the common cook – and as long as you have the courage of a lion, no dietary restrictions and a large group to feed, it is successful.
Full review: http://readwritecook.blogspot.ca/2012/07/graces-sweet-life-homemade-italian.html