The 12th-floor demo kitchen at ICE Culinary was a flurry of flour and excitement today as ICE Culinary alumna (Culinary ’94) Chef Gina DePalma put her skills on display in A Sweet Italian Christmas Demo. Chef DePalma has worked as the pastry chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante and Enoteca since its opening in 1998 and was named the 2009 James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year.
Chef DePalma demonstrated baking her favorite Italian holiday pastries – Anginetti, Castagnaccio and Crostoli – to a crowd of ICE alumni, current students and guests. She shared stories about her close-knit Italian family as she worked effortlessly to prepare the various traditional doughs and glazes.
The pastries represented three very different types of Italian sweets, with the Anginetti taking the form of small cakes dipped in lemon icing and topped with festive sprinkles (pictured above). The Castagnaccio, or chestnut cake, is a mix of both savory and sweet that’s finished with a brush of chestnut honey syrup.
The crowd’s eyes grew wide as Chef DePalma prepared the final recipe, Crostoli (pictured on the left), or deep-fried pastries flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Chef DePalma added a final touch to the puffed ribbons by dusting them liberally with powdered sugar and a drizzle of honey for the perfect seasonal sweet.
Chef Gina DePalma is a 1994 graduate of The Institute of Culinary Education and is the pastry chef at Babbo Ristorante and Enoteca. Chef Gina is also an author, having contributed to The Babbo Cookbook and written her own cookbook, Dolce Italiano, Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen (W.W. Norton & Co., 2007).