Traditional Italian Christmas Desserts
No Italian Christmas would be complete without one or more traditional Christmas desserts. Here are a few favorites.
Zuppa Inglese consists of layers of cake that are brushed wth a rum and jam mixture, alternately layered in a glass bowl with vanilla and chocolate pastry cream and topped with sweetened whipped cream and fruit.
A pizzelle is a traditional Italian waffle cookie that is made by placing batter into a pizzelle maker, which resembles a waffle iron. The result is a thin golden-brown cookie, which has a crisp texture once it is cooled.
Pizzelle Recipes >>
Struffoli is a traditional Neapolitan Christmas dessert made from small puffs of citrus-flavored dough that are crunchy on the outside and soft inside. The fried balls are dipped in honey and dusted with multi-colored candy sprinkles.
Struffoli Recipe >>
A fig and nut filled ring called a buccellato heralds Christmas in Sicily. Buccellato is also given by godparents to their godchild and family on the christening day.
Fig Cake Recipe >>
Chestnut Tortelli are made with a pastry dough that is filled with a mixture of ground chestnuts, rum, cinnamon,and chocolate. They can be dusted with confectioners' sugar, drizzled with honey or rolled in cinnamon-sugar.
Chestnut Tortelli Recipe >>
These crepes are flourless, light, and aromatic. The filling is similar to a cannoli filling.
Apostles' Fingers Recipe >>
These festively colored cookies are made with 3 layers of cake with a rich almond flavor, separated by sweet apricot jam, and topped with chocolate icing.
Venetian Layered Cookies Recipe >>
Grispelle are fried potato doughnuts which come from Calabria where they are a special Christmas treat. You can use white potatoes or sweet potatoes in this recipe.
Grispelle Recipe >>
Pandoro or pan d’oro means ‘golden bread.’ It is a traditional Christmas cake from Verona that gets its name due to its pleasing yellow color.
Pandoro Recipe >>
Panettone, the tall, cylindrical, fruit-filled sweet bread from Milan has become an essential part of the Christmas season.
Panettone Recipe >>
Parrozzo is a traditional Christmas cake from the Abruzzo region of Italy. The classic dome-shaped almond cake is flavored with citrus zest and topped with a rich chocolate glaze.
Parrozzo Recipe >>
Delight in the special flavors and aromas of the holiday season with our seasonal biscotti recipes ... pumpkin, cranberry, gingerbread, and chocolate-peppermint.
Seasonal Biscotti Recipes >>
Befana Cake is traditionally made for the Feast of the Three Kings. Before the cake is baked, a large dried bean is added to the dough. The cake is presented on a crown and whoever receives the slice with the bean is king (or queen) for the day.
Befana Cake Recipe >>
MOST POPULAR DESSERTS
Natale, or Christmas, is a very special holiday throughout Italy and each region has its own traditional dishes. Natale is one of the few occasions of the year in which ancestral traditions are revered above all else. What will be eaten during the feast is a kind of ritual. Very often each course is prepared more or less in the same way it has been for generations. Mothers, sisters, aunts, and cousins get together to make these foods in assembly line fashion. These are the key ingredients that make these foods so special ... the togetherness, the stories and laughter, the reconnecting with and preserving of the past ... a time to celebrate.
Panforte, or Siena Cake, is a traditional Italian Christmas dessert that is made with honey, nuts, chocolate, spices, and dried fruit.
Panforte Recipe >>
Gubana is a spiral cake filled with a mixture of dried fruit, nuts, and spices. It is related to strudel, babka, and other Slavic, Czech, and Eastern European pastries.
Gubana Recipe >>
This is a traditional Italian pizzelle recipe with the warm winter spices of gingerbread added.
Gingerbread Pizzelle Recipe >>