In 1967, Master Chef Carlo Sena came to the United States from Napoli, Italy. He brought his wife and eldest son Luca and together they began a new life in Philadelphia. In 1976, Chef Carlo and Luca Sena started the acclaimed fine dining restaurant La Famiglia on South Front Street in Philly, which is now owned and operated by Luca’s brothers Gino and Guiseppe. Luca presently owns Panorama restaurant adjacent to the renowned Penn’s View Hotel, continuing the family’s hospitality heritage in the former American capital city.
Below is one of the family’s much-loved recipes, for Tiramisu, from their cookbook.
2 ½ cups room temperature espresso coffee
2.5 oz. of Nocello hazelnut liquor (can substitute Frangelico or good quality dark rum)
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ lbs. Mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
14 oz. ladyfingers 48-54 cookies (Savoiardi brand is the best)
1 tbsp. cocoa
¼ cup grated semisweet chocolate
6 Tbsp Nutella chocolate hazelnut or melted chocolate at room temperature
Brew espresso. Add 5 tablespoons of liquor and set aside to cool to room temperature. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed. Add sugar and salt. Beat at medium speed until pale yellow, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add remaining liquor to egg mixture and mix for an additional 30 seconds. Add Mascarpone and beat at medium speed until there are no lumps. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
In the mixer, beat cream at medium speed until frothy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add Nutella chocolate. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks. Fold one third of the whipped cream into Mascarpone mixture, gently folding in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mixture aside.
Working with one ladyfinger at a time, dip the ladyfingers into coffee mixture. Roll the ladyfingers in the coffee to wet both sides, then remove the ladyfingers. Transfer them to a 13×9 inch glass baking dish. Do not soak the ladyfingers too long in the coffee mixture. It should be a quick dip, 2 to 3 seconds for each one. Arrange the ladyfingers in a single layer at the bottom of the baking dish. You may break a few in order to get a uniform fit.
Spread one half of the Mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers, using a rubber spatula to spread the mixture to sides and corners of dish. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers. Spread remaining Mascarpone mixture and dust with cocoa.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with grated chocolate.
Serves 10 to 12