Italian Sweets and Dessert Recipes

Italian recipes, with the emphasis on fresh ingredients and simple techniques, have gained popularity around the world. It may be possible to argue that Italian desserts are as widely enjoyed as their pasta or preserved meats are. Many of these favorite Italian dessert recipes are traditionally offered during Catholic holidays, though over time have become commonly available during other times of year. Professional bakeries are easily found today, but most traditional homemakers still enjoy passing Italian dessert recipes to their daughters and granddaughters, ensuring that family traditions will be continued.

Frozen desserts are frequently eaten throughout the country. Milk based gelato is more often found in Northern Italy, flavored with chocolate, nut pastes or even the sweet, local milk from grass fed cows. In Southern Italy, they tend to prefer a frozen dessert called sorbetto. This is a fruit flavored ice made with a water base.

Italian ice cream is simple to make, only requiring a few, high quality ingredients and an electric gelato machine. The authentic machine is necessary in order to achieve the correct texture for a homemade ice cream recipe. With less air folded into the mixture, the final result is far more dense than ice cream. Additionally, a rapid freezing process prevents large ice crystals from forming, resulting in an extremely smooth texture.

Fresh, grass fed whole cow milk, pure cane sugar or other sweeteners and natural flavoring will come together to create a rich, delicious frozen dessert unlike any available in the supermarket. Gelaterias know how to use Italian dessert recipes that make ice cream that is lower in fat than packaged ice cream, yet the smooth texture gives the illusion of being richer. Not only is gelato lower in fat, but also contains less sugar than ice cream, making it a more healthful choice.

Baked Italian dessert recipes are offered both at formal dinners and as casual snacks. Italian cookie recipes use a variety of ingredients, giving each one unique textures and flavors. Italian pastry recipes can be found in any of the many regions across Italy. Zaleti are coarsely textured cookies made from cornmeal found in Veneto. Amaretti are one of many crunchy cookies made with sweetened almond paste as the primary ingredient. Biscotti, meaning twice baked, are prepared by baking a large loaf shaped biscuit, slicing and baking a second time until completely dry and crisp.

Italian cookies are not always eaten out of hand. Tiramisù is an easy Italian dessert recipe that never fails to impress. An Italian cookie recipe that is commonly used as an ingredient in other desserts is the savoiardi. These biscuits, also known as ladyfingers, are an airy cookie that relies on stiffly beaten egg whites for lightness. These biscuits are dipped in an espresso and liqueur mixture and layered with flavored mascarpone cheese.

Many Italian pastry recipes were originally part of Catholic religious tradition. Italian cakes are often made from sweet yeast doughs, rather than leavened with baking powder and soda. Pannetone is a yeast raised egg bread traditionally offered at Christmas. The light dough is sweet and studded with candied citron peel and other dried and candied fruits. Pandoro is another yeast raised cake served during the Christmas season. This is served generously dusted with vanilla flavored sugar and may be hollowed out and filled with whipped cream or gelato. Easter time brings maritozzi, or raisin buns, and colomba, a dove shaped bread with almond topping.

Many Italian dessert recipes often feature cream, butter, nut pastes and other rich ingredients. However, Italian fruit desserts are very popular, especially after heavy meals with cheese and meat. Northern Italy’s climate and rich soil are responsible for growing flavorful, sweet stone fruits, melons, pears and berries. Apples are used to make a spicy cake called certosino and deep fried fritters known as frittelle di melle. For an easy dessert recipe, many Italians enjoy macedonia di frutta, a fruit salad lightly dressed to prevent browning.

Southern Italy is known for including citrus and figs in Italian dessert recipes. Citrus is eaten in many forms, often candied. Both the sweet flesh and the more savory rind are candied and used in desserts. Chinulille are a ravioli filled with sweetened ricotta cheese flavored with candied fruit, sometimes with candy or chestnuts. These small filled noodles are deep fried and generously  dusted with powdered sugar. Figs are eaten fresh on their own, stuffed with flavored mascarpone cheese or dried, often covered with chocolate.

Italian chocolates come in many forms. The combination of hazelnut paste with chocolate is popular throughout Italy, either as a bonbon, a spreadable paste or as a flavoring for gelato or baked treats. Italian chocolate desserts are often elegant and simple, such as candied or dried fruit dipped in chocolate.

Torrone, or nougat, is an Italian candy that comes in many forms. The recipe is very simple, consisting of boiled honey, sugar and egg whites, often with toasted almonds or other varieties of nuts. It may be flavored or left plain and is sometimes served with a chocolate or rice paper covering.

Authentic Italian desserts range from as simple as fresh fruits and cheese or chocolates to rich, liqueur drenched pastries. Despite being simple to prepare, many easy Italian desserts consistently impress friends and family. For the best results, make sure to use the freshest produce and the best quality chocolate and nuts available.


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