Sweet treats are a part of the history of Italian food, just as much as pasta and pizza are. For even the most disciplined traveler to Italy, it is hard to say no to all the delicious temptations that await. It seems that every bar, café or pasticceria has an endless display of cookies, chocolates or some other enticement. Italian desserts range in flavor from slightly bitter to sweet but usually not overwhelmingly sweet and are often best served with a wine.
For the Italian Wine & Dessert Event, we have selected some of the most popular festive Italian sweets usually prepared by grandmothers before Christmas.
PASTE DI MANDORLA
Almond flour, Sugar, Egg White
These tender, two-bite almond cookies are popular in Sicily and elsewhere in southern Italy, piped into stars or rolled into small balls and coated in confectioners’ sugar or finely chopped nuts.
Even if almonds are used in many Sicilian recipes, they are not native to Sicily; they were originally cultivated in the Middle East and made their way to the island in around 1,000 BC.
They have become the second most popular fruit tree in Sicily, being beaten out only by olive trees. Almonds are so popular in Sicily that there is a festival devoted to them in Agrigento in February, when the trees blossom.
GENOVA CHRISTMAS CAKE
Flour, Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Chocolate Chips, Walnuts, Raisin, Almonds.
Pandolce Genovese is one of the symbols of the city of Genoa, but it is widespread throughout the region of Liguria. And while it was originally consumed on Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Epiphany, nowadays you can enjoy it all year round.
Traditionally, pandolce Genovese was made with yeast, eggs, honey, olive oil, and flour. It featured a generous dose of raisins and was flavored with fennel seeds and orange blossom water.
Over the years, sugar has replaced honey, butter has taken the place of olive oil, pine nuts and candied fruit have joined the raisins, and marsala wine has given an additional aromatic note to the cake.
TARALLUCCI AL VINO
Roma and Central Italy
Flour, Sugar, White Wine, Vegetable Oil, Fennel Seeds, Anice Seeds
These doughnuts were born near Rome in the Roman Castles. They’re probably the most known rustic sweets in Lazio. Usually they’re eaten with some wine, and yes, there’s actually wine in the doughnuts themselves.
Ciambelline do not contain yeast and ingredients are only of plant origin, so no butter, milk and eggs. Despite this, the wine donuts maintain a nice crispness.
Therefore, they are a perfect dessert for vegetarians and vegan people indeed.
This recipe belongs to the enormous group of leftovers-based recipes which Roman people are proud of (in this case we are talking about the wine of the previous year).
CROSTATA CREMA DI CIOCCOLATO FONDENTE
Dark Chocolat Custard Tart
Flour, Sugar, Butter, Milk, Eggs, Corn Starch, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa, Lemon Aroma
is a classic Italian dessert, more so of the Roman tradition, and consists of a short pastry (pastafrolla) with a delicate filling of ricotta, orange zest or cinnamon, and dark chocolate.
It is not sure who and when invented this pie. It seems that it can even be traced back to the pre-Christian era, becoming the oldest dessert in the Italian pastry tradition.
Traditionally, a crostata consisted of a base of shortcrust pastry filled with variour ingredients like jam, Nutella, custard.