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.
Years ago, people living in the Abruzzo countryside made a coarse bread that they called
“pane rozzo” or coarse bread. It was a dome-shaped cornmeal loaf baked in wood-burning
ovens. In the 1920’s, the owner of a pastry shop in Pescara named Luigi D'Amico had the
idea of making a sweet version of pane rozzo. His cake had the same dome-shape of the
bread and he added a coating of dark chocolate to imitate the dark areas of the burned
surface, characteristic of wood-burning ovens. He called this cake parrozzo.
This cake is baked in an ovenproof bowl or dome-shaped mold to maintain its traditional
shape but it can be baked in a springform pan if desired.
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup "00" flour or cake flour
1/4 cup semolina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Finely grated zest of one orange or lemon
8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 to 9-inch ovenproof bowl or
In a food processor with a metal blade, grind the almonds to a fine powder.
Transfer the ground almonds to a bowl. Add the flour, semolina, baking
powder, and salt; stir to combine. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy,
about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides
after each addition. Beat in the extract and orange or lemon zest. Add the
flour mixture; beat until the batter is thick and well combined. Pour the batter
into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out
clean. Cool the cake in the bowl or pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto a
wire rack, remove the bowl, and cool completely.
To make the glaze:
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler; then whisk in the butter and Amaretto.
Pour the glaze over the top of the cooled cake. With a spatula, spread the
glaze over the cake in an even layer. Transfer the cake to a serving plate or
cake stand. Keep the cake at a cool room temperature or refrigerate. If
refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving.