Italian desserts—true Christmas classics!

In Italy, every season and holiday is replete with traditional recipes that have always been testament to this country’s incredible talent for making good food, and enjoying it!

Christmas is a deliciously perfect example of Italy’s culinary prowess! In fact, both north and south of the peninsula, there is an infinite variety of specialties sure to please any food lover on Santa’s list—specialties whose flavours pay tribute to the rich land from which they were born.

Among the delectable Christmas treats, one can enjoy the renowned Panettone and Pandoro of Northern Italy, the Panforte and Torroni of Central Italy and the Struffoli of the southern region.

This year, why not celebrate with Panforte and Struffoli. Discover them for yourself with the recipes we’ve provided.

Panforte or strong bread is eaten mostly in Central Italy but originally comes from Sienna, in the Tuscany region. History tells us that, originally, peasants and serfs living and working in convents prepared the bread for nuns. These honey and spice cakes were so delicious, it wasn’t long before lay people themselves began enjoying them themselves!

Over time, the preparation of this dessert was passed on from the convents… to pharmacists (!!!) who were the only ones able to prepare the herb-and-spice-based medicinal mixtures. This is the reason why many Panforte breads bear the name of past generations of pharmacist families!

This absolutely delectable cake is made of fresh almonds, candied fruit (particularly citrus), spices and honey.

It is often served with Vino Santo, a wine at one time produced by Tuscan monasteries.

This wonderful dessert takes us right to the heart of Naples and its renowned penchant for sweet treats! Neapolitan pastries, influenced by the successive waves of Greek, Roman, French, English and Spanish conquerors, are truly legendary. One need only think of some of the more well-known specialties—Pastiera, Sfogliatelle, Rum Babà and, of course, Struffoli.

The name Struffoli comes from the Greek “strongulos” which means “round in shape”—exactly what the balls of dough look like before they are fried.
These desserts are, in fact, small round doughnuts drenched in honey and sprinkled with cubed candied fruit that looks like confetti!

These treats used to be prepared in convents, by the sisters of different religious orders, and distributed to noble families as thanks for acts of charity.

Even though they are usually prepared using the same ingredients, everyone’s Struffoli is different! Everyone gives it their own special touch, and taste.

One thing is certain, to make good Struffoli, you need good honey—and just the right amount of it too! But, the true secret to success is keeping the Struffoli small. The reason is quite simple—the smaller the Struffoli, the more honey taste you get!

This savoury holiday treats are sure to add an extra dash of Christmas cheer to your table.

Buon Natale and buon appetito!

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