Arrival of Summer: Moretta di Fano Cake

Recipe of the Month

The May sun is like a delicate caress on the skin that softens the thoughts and makes you feel the arrival of summer in Italy. It is this period when we take advantage of the fine weather to savor the sea again. It’s still too early for swimming, but ideal for a fish lunch and a pleasant walk on the beach.

Those who have had the chance like me, to walk along the Adriatic seafront, are likely to have tasted the typical beverage of the area: Moretta di Fano. This special drink is a mix of coffee, anise liqueur, rum, and brandy (or cognac), and flavored with lemon peel and sugar. “Don’t call it caffè corretto”(coffee served with a splash of liqueur), say the residents of Fano. This city is rich in history and culture, and a popular maritime location. Fano is also famous for its Carnival —  one of the most ancient in Italy. And, of course, famous for its Moretta — declared agroalimentary product of excellence of the Marche region.

Much more than coffee

Much more than a coffee, the Moretta it is an excellent digestive to enjoy after the weekend’s abundant lunches. It’s also the favorite energizer of sailors. It seems that the sailors themselves have been the creators of this ancient preparation. However, as it often happens for traditional recipes, it is necessary to disentangle between history and legend.

Many people say, in fact, that in ancient times, sailors used to mix hot coffee with the leftovers found in various bottles of liquor. The mix kept them warm during the cold winter nights.  Every time, they’d enjoy a different beverage: hot and rejuvenating.

Others believe that the thoughtful wife of a sailor would prepare to her husband a restorative mix of coffee and the liquor she had on hand. Most people, however, usually attribute the name of Moretta di Fano to the label of one of the three liqueurs used for the recipe, which contained the image of a girl with a dark complexion, which in Fano dialect was called “Murèta”.

Unchanged in time

The recipe handed down, which is still prepared today, remains unchanged in time: anise, rum and cognac are heated in equal parts with the addition of a lemon rind and finally of coffee. The alcoholic and sugared part should be at the base of the glass, the coffee in the center and the coffee cream at the top. The golden rule calls for three layers of three different colors: the amber yellow of the alcoholic part, the roasted brown of the coffee and the lighter brown of the coffee cream.

Dessert inspired by Moretta

Today’s dessert is inspired by Moretta. It’s born from the colors and scents that pass on passions and evoke in me many memories and sensations. I thought of this recipe as a visual language of shapes, colors and lines. My version is an abstract impulse capable of communicating with the soul and of creating a sort of synesthetic effect: the intersection of sensory perceptions we feel when we encounter familiar colors and scents that are so dear to us, capable of making us feel the “music of a flavor”. This dessert is the music of a coffee. The vision of a memory of May days, walks on the beach, and Moretta at the bar.

Vasily Kandinsky said:

Sentivo a volte il chiacchiericcio sommesso dei colori che si mescolavano: era un’esperienza misteriosa; sorpresa nella misteriosa cucina di un alchimista.

(I could sometimes hear the hushed chatter of colors mixing: it was a mysterious experience; surprised in the mysterious kitchen of an alchemist.)

Recipe for Moretta di Fano Cake

Ingredients:

  • Almond shortbread
  • Flour 00 225 g
  • Almond flour 100 g
  • Butter 140 g
  • Icing sugar 100 g
  • Medium eggs 1 + 1 yolk
  • Vanilla pod 1
  • Salt 1 pinch
  • Lemon cream
  • Whole milk 250 ml
  • Sugar 75 g
  • Potato starch 15 g
  • Flour 00 15 g
  • Egg yolks 3
  • Lemon peel 3
  • Gelatine 5 g

Coffee and 3 Liqueurs Mousse:

  • White chocolate 190 g
  • Gelatin 5 g
  • Fresh cream 205 g
  • Whole milk 100 g
  • Coffee 1 cup
  • Brandy 1 teaspoon
  • Anise 2 teaspoons
  • Rum 1 teaspoon
  • White chocolate ganache
  • White chocolate 200 g
  • Fresh cream 200 g

Method:

Put the 00 flour and cold butter cut into chunks in a bowl, mix with an electric whisk to obtain a sandy mixture.

Add the almond flour and powdered sugar, and finally the salt.

Stir in the seeds of a vanilla bean, the whole egg and the yolk.

Mix again until all the ingredients tend to come together.

Transfer everything to the work surface, add a pinch of salt and continue to knead the dough by hand, working quickly and not too long, until you get a homogeneous and compact dough.

Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of 2.5 mm

Line the microperforated ring with the shortcrust pastry and prick the bottom with a fork

Bake for about 25 minutes at 160° in a static oven.

Let cool and unmold

In the meantime prepare the lemon cream.

Remove the zest from the lemons, taking care not to take the white part, and pour the zest into a saucepan where you have added the milk.

Turn on a low heat and let the milk cool down.

Dissolve the gelatin previously soaked and squeezed.

Meanwhile, in a bowl place the egg yolks, sugar and work the mixture with a whisk.

You will have to get a homogeneous cream, before adding the flour and starch sifted

Stir with a whisk to mix the powders, then add the warmed milk.

Stir vigorously to obtain a homogeneous and fluid mixture, then pour it back into the saucepan, filtering it through a fine-mesh strainer to prevent lumps from forming.

Turn on the low heat and cook the cream, stirring constantly with the whisk until it thickens.

Turn off the heat and transfer the cream into a piping bag.

Fill with the cream some sections of the mould

Now prepare the Coffee and Three Liqueurs Mousse

Semi-moisten the cream and place it in the fridge.

Heat the milk and add the gelatine, previously soaked and squeezed.

Melt the white chocolate, then pour in the milk, stirring with a whisk.

Let the mixture cool down and gently add the cream.

Divide the mixture into two bowls

Add the three liqueurs to the first one and the coffee cup to the second one, mix well and always gently.

Using two sac à poche, fill the remaining sections of the mold and freeze.

Now prepare the white chocolate ganache

Heat the cream

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate

Stir vigorously until the mixture is glossy and creamy

Fill the shortcrust base completely and let it crystallize in the fridge

Unmold the decorative top and place it on top of the tart.

Moretta di Fano Recipe:

Ingredients for one person:

  • 1 cup of espresso coffee
  • 1 teaspoon of brandy
  • 2 teaspoons of aniseed 
  • 1 teaspoon of rum
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • lemon peel from one lemon

Method:

Put the three liqueurs and a lemon peel in a small glass, avoiding taking the more bitter white part.

Add the sugar, which you will have to dissolve completely with the heat of the steam wand.

Prepare the espresso with the coffee machine and drop it into the small glass with the liqueurs, making sure to keep it at an angle so that the foam and the coffee remain distinct. In this way, the three layers with the three colors will be visible.

In lack of an espresso machine it can also be prepared with mocha coffee heating the other ingredients on the stove

Serve it hot.

Lorenzo Diamantini

Food and Wine Editor

Lorenzo Diamantini was born in 1987 in Gubbio, a wonderful medieval Umbrian city in central Italy. He has been an electrician for 15 years and at the same time, cultivates countless passions for art, photography, reading and writing — in particular poetry which is his own peculiarity. Lorenzo is the author of several poems and he devotes much of his free time to his writings. As a former footballer, Lorenzo is also a fitness lover, a full-time athlete, and devotes 6 days to training per week. Care for the body and food brings him closer to the world of cooking which becomes a large part of his creative expression and good taste. This somewhat stimulating hobby matures hand in hand with his love for wine and craft beer that embellish the recipes with refined combinations. Numerous publications of his dishes on his social media platforms attract great interest/ Today, Lorenzo is a food blogger in evolution and is more and more appreciated on the net. Follow @lorenzodiamantini on Instagram.

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