These are the tastings that are sometimes done almost by chance, perhaps on a cold Sunday in January spent discovering places full of charm like the Lunigiana. Maybe entering a Café that could be any Café, to take heart from the breath that thickens in grayish clouds, in the air that for some reason, even if you are on the street, smells like the fireplace, firewood, of cozy atmospheres. These are tastings that are owed to become “Madeleines” in the memory of pleasure, little but unforgettable joys of life.
Amor vincit omnia at the Café degli Svizzeri, in the heart of Pontremoli
This is how you try Amor, filled wafer cakes with a soft cream, liqueur and hazelnut cream, in a whirlwind of literary evocations that surrounds Pontremoli, city of the book, and of warm familiarity.
During the Napoleonic era, many Swiss descended into Italy and conquered with it the art of pastry outposts deemed far more challenging to win with weapons. In 1842, in Pontremoli and for this purpose the Aichta brothers arrived to open a grocery and liquor store right in the main square of the ancient Lunigianese center, since the most remote times land of border and conquest, as seen from its towers, bridges, the big fortified castle.
Amor conquered more than the weapons: when the grocery was expanded in the beautifully furnished rooms in Art Nouveau style in the early ‘years of the 20ieth century and expanded into a pastry and coffee shop today known as the Café Degli Svizzeri. And this sweet little invention of the Aichta brothers and Steckli members became famous throughout the valley, also thanks to the pastry business that the Swiss also had in the city of Massa.
Even today, entering the Caffé degli Svizzeri means being conquered by beauty, as well as by taste. In beautifully preserved and furnished premises, it seems to take a trip in time and style, while learning that’s Amor.
A jealously guarded recipe, but we try the same
It is impossible to give recipes based on such a complete experience. Suppose it was a question of trying to make this Swiss Delikatessen at home. In that case, the official procedure is not known because it is jealously preserved among the Aichta house papers.
However, you can try this way:
Find the wafer in square waffles or settle for the Maries.
For the cream, grab the following:
1/2 liter of milk
6 egg yolks
150 g of granulated sugar
75 g of white flour
a pinch of vanilla
300 gr of fresh butter to put at room temperature
liqueur (Strega, Sassolino, Brandy)
chopped almonds or hazelnuts.
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the sugar, flour, and vanillin. Boil the milk and add it to the mixture, mixing well.
Place in a saucepan and cook the cream, stirring constantly. Once it reaches a boil, take it off the stove. Transfer it into a large bowl and cover it with a sheet of waxed paper (or plastic wrap) to prevent it from forming a crust on the surface as it cools.
Incorporate the soft butter into the cream and stir until you obtain a spongy consistency. Complete with 2-3 tablespoons of the liqueurs, and place the filling in a cooling place to rest.
Place the cream between the wafers and complete with chopped almonds or hazelnuts as desired.