Sant Ambroeus: The Coffee Bar Cookbook features an exciting collection of 75 recipes for panini, paninetti, sandwiches, cookies, pastries, gelati, and coffee from the Milanese café, Sant Ambroeus, in New York City. A few highlights include Paninetto con Prosciutto San Daniele, Tortine di Frutta, Espresso Shakerato, Pretzel Cornetti, and Gelato al Pistacchio. I will also be sharing their recipe for Biscotti Diamante following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Rizzoli in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Two pastry chefs opened the original Sant Ambroeus café in Milan in 1936 just steps away from Teatro La Scala. It was named after Sant Ambroeus (Saint Ambrose in English, Sant’Ambrogio in Italian), the patron saint of Milan, and quickly became a vibrant, welcoming café with a devoted following.
In 1982, the first Manhattan location opened on Madison Avenue and has now spread to five cafés in the West Village, SoHo, Battery Park City, and the Upper East Side, plus additional locations in Southampton and Palm Beach.
Sant Ambroeus: The Coffee Bar Cookbook
The cookbook begins with an introduction of the Italian coffee bar and Sant Ambroeus’ Milanese origins. Along with the recipes, you will also learn the history behind the food and a day in the life at the coffee bar. There is even a breakdown of the Italian classification system for authenticity (DOP, IGP, and DOC). I especially love the closer look at specific ingredients such as espresso, olive oil, and butter.
Chapters are divided according to the following: I Nostri Caffè, Tramezzini, Focaccine e Cornetti, Paninetti All’Olio, Panini Caldi, Biscotti, Dolci, and Gelati e Sorbetti.
The inviting photography is provided by Evan Sung. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully styled, full page photo of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in US Customary and the titles are written in Italian. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, serving size, and helpful tips.
Sant Ambroeus has such a fun assortment of Biscotti perfect for the holiday baking season (and I can’t wait to dive into the desserts and gelato/sorbetto recipes as well). I started with the Biscotti Diamante. Translating to diamond, these biscotti are not named for their shape, but rather the sparkling tops from the sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.
This crunchy cinnamon sugar topping contrasts so beautifully with the crumbly, shortbread-like texture of the biscotti. They are a wonderful accompaniment to espresso or tea at brunch or as an afternoon treat.
After bringing together the dough and forming into a ball, it is wrapped in plastic and allowed to rest in the refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to two days. This step is very important to chill the butter and make the dough easier to roll out into a sheet slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is too cold to roll initially, allow to rest at room temperature for a few minutes, then try again. A 2-inch round cutter is used to cut out individual circles, then each cookie is brushed with an egg wash and topped with the cinnamon sugar before baking until golden.
This recipe can easily be halved to make about 3 dozen cookies.
I also made the Espresso Sant Ambroeus, Paninetti All’Olio, Paninetto con Prosciutto Cotto, and Chicchirichi.
The Espresso Sant Ambroeus is the coffee bar’s namesake espresso (called a Marocchino in Italy) and was quite the indulgent start to the day. An ounce of melted dark chocolate is poured into the glass before topping with strong espresso, frothed milk, and a dusting of cocoa powder.
Along with all the delicious sandwiches, you will also find a handful of bread recipes to use as the base. Paninetti All’Olio continues to be one of my favorites. The dough comes together with minimal effort and develops a “soft crumb and a thin crackly crust.” Sant Ambroeus incorporates an inverted sugar syrup (recipe also in book) to help keep the bread moist.
After baking the Paninetti All’Olio, I used them as the base for Paninetto con Prosciutto Cotto. This sandwich is perfect for a quick lunch or snack with simply a drizzle of olive oil and thin slices of prosciutto cotto (flaky ham that has been cooked very slowly with a “signature sweet taste and buttery texture”) and Swiss cheese.
Chicchirichi was another favorite of ours for a flavorful brunch or lunch. Named after the sound of an Italian rooster in the morning, this sandwich has a ciabatta roll base and is packed with a homemade chicken salad. The chicken salad filling comes together easily with baked chicken, spinach, garlic, mayonnaise, carrot, celery, and fresh herbs. I don’t currently have a panini press, so I used a cast iron grill pan with a heavy lid on top to press it down.
Sant Ambroeus is a great pick whether you are interested in Milanese coffee culture or simply looking for a collection of sandwich and dessert ideas to try at home. Recipes range from quick and easy sandwiches perfect for lunch to more time-consuming breads and absolutely stunning pastries/cakes.
Having a specialty market with Italian ingredients (I was able to find everything at Eataly here in Los Angeles) will be helpful in locating items such as almond paste, prosciutto cotto, mozzarella di bufala, San Daniele prosciutto, crème fraîche, truffle oil, bresaola, Felino salami, hazelnuts, golden raisins, Dutch process cocoa powder, and pistachio paste.
Biscotti Diamante Recipe
Excerpt from Sant Ambroeus
- 4 1/3 cups cake flour
- 3 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided
- 2 sticks plus 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (23 tablespoons), softened
- 1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour and 3/4 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon and set aside.
- Place the butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Add the yolks in a thin stream and mix until combined. Add the flour and cinnamon mixture and mix until just combined.
- Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 300˚F on the convection setting. Line cookie sheets or sheet pans with parchment paper. Roll the dough to slightly less than 1/4 inch thick and use a 2-inch round cutter to cut cookies. Transfer to the prepared pans. Reroll scraps and cut again.
- Beat the egg well and use it as an egg wash on top of the cookies, taking care to wipe the brush clean so that it doesn't drip down the sides.
- Combine the granulated sugar and the remaining 3 tablespoons cinnamon and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the cookies.
- Bake in the preheated oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cookies on the pans on racks.