When Gina DePalma was growing up and her large extended Italian family gathered for holidays, they ended every meal with a platter piled high with fresh fruits and nuts. "It was a ritual," she says. No wonder, then, that the confection DePalma dreamed up for O
pays homage to the flavors of her childhood. Her toasted-almond cake is layered with a rich mascarpone filling studded with amarena cherries. "Amarenas are wild Italian cherries with a unique flavor that is both sweet and slightly sour," explains DePalma, pastry chef at Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant in New York City and 2009 winner of the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award.
Get the recipe: Gina DePalma's Toasted Almond Cake with Mascarpone Cream and Amarena Cherries
Plus: Gina DePalma's favorite kitchen trick