These days, does it seem like all news is bad news? Metro borrowed the following edited excerpt and recipe from David Rocco’s latest book Dolce Vita (HarperCollins) to breathe a little fresh air into your life. The good life.

Dolce Vita
Literally translated, dolce vita means “sweet life.” Life has its ups and downs, but I believe you can find a little dolce vita even on the worst days.

To me, dolce vita has nothing to do with money or social status or possessions. It’s about being present in those moments in life that bring you joy. It’s a sip of perfect espresso in the morning. It’s the patina of a rugged old kitchen table that has seen a thousand family dinners. It’s a nod hello to a stranger as you struggle down the street in the morning to catch the bus.

Dolce vita is linked to food, cooking and family. I remember waking up on Sunday mornings and hearing my mom in the kitchen, with the radio tuned to an Italian station. I’d sneak into the kitchen, and she’d pretend not to notice as I ripped a piece of bread from the fresh loaf on the counter and dipped it into the tomato sauce gently bubbling away on the stove. Then I’d head to the den and sit down with my dad to watch some soccer. The air would be rich with the smell of his espresso, and I’d get a little poured into my glass of warm milk.

There’s no perfume that smells as sweet to me as Sunday morning in the Rocco household.
That’s dolce vita!

Brutti Ma Buoni (Ugly but Good)
These cookies aren’t really ugly, but they’re definitely good and easy to make. The name comes from the fact that they don’t have a regular cookie shape.

These are native to Tuscany and were invented to use up egg whites, because so many Tuscan dishes call for the yolk. This is a very forgiving cookie recipe in that a little extra of an ingredient won’t sabotage it. Makes 24 cookies.

INGREDIENTS:
• 6 egg whites
• 1 cup (250 ml) toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup (250 ml) toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
• 3/4 cup (175 ml) sugar
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) cocoa powder
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) amaretto
• 1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) vanilla extract
• Butter, for greasing cookie sheet

METHOD:

Put the egg whites in a bowl and beat them until they get very airy and form nice white peaks. It’s important that the peaks not break, so don’t overbeat them. The airiness gives the cookie its light texture, so don’t dump in your other ingredients. Instead, sprinkle in the almonds, hazelnuts, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, amaretto and vanilla. Now gently, gently fold everything together.

Grease a cookie tray with some butter, dust it with a little flour and then use a spoon to drop the dough onto the tray in little blobs, leaving approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each one.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. If you like chewier cookies, underbake them slightly. Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack. Let them rest for 30 minutes or until cooled.

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