Among other cuisines, Italian is one of those that get the most praise from even the pickiest judges all over the world, and that reflects in Italian desserts.
Italian sweet treats come in different forms: cakes to cookies, biscuits, or ice creams. And every single one of them tastes fantastic. What’s more surprising is that this deliciousness comes with incredible simplicity that anyone can make at home.
Table of Contents
- Here Are 27 Amazing Italian Desserts For The Sweet Tooth Foodies
- 4 Classical Italian Cakes That Will Make Your Mouth Watering
- 8 Italian Cookies And Biscuits To Nip On In An Afternoon Tea Party
- 5 Frozen Italian Desserts For A Hot Summer Day
- Do You Know That There Are Italian Sweet Treats Required Frying?
- 7 Unique Italian Desserts That Are Waiting For You To Find Out
- Which Italian Desserts Have Caught Your Eyes?
- 25+ Worth Devouring Desserts From Italy
Here Are 27 Amazing Italian Desserts For The Sweet Tooth Foodies
As I’ve said above, Italian desserts can satisfy even the most demanding eaters. So don’t worry, whether you are a sweet tooth or not, you can still find the perfect sweet treat here for yourself.
- Torta Caprese
Cookies And Biscuits
- Italian Butter Cookies
- Pignoli Cookies
- Brutti ma Buoni
- Panna Cotta
- Marron Glace
Don’t hesitate anymore! Keep on reading for more information!
4 Classical Italian Cakes That Will Make Your Mouth Watering
When it comes to dessert, you must talk about cakes. While tiramisu has a considerable influence on Italian cuisine, that doesn’t mean it’s the only cake worth mentioning. Keep on reading, those treats below won’t let you down.
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You can’t talk about Italian cuisine in general and its dessert in particular without mentioning tiramisu. This classic sweet has appeared for nearly a century but still is a pillar of Italian culture.
Crunchy biscuit soaked in coffee until tender, fluffy whipped eggs, and creamy mascarpone filling. All makes a perfect snack with coffee or tea, whether you follow the traditional recipes or take a modern way.
Have you known how to make an authentic tiramisu? Click here to find out!
To make it easier for you, just imagine crostata is a rustic version of open-faced tarts. While tarts are usually baked in a pan, crostatas don’t have a fixed form as bakers will fold up the dough around the fill to make a crust.
Though crostata comes in both sweet and savory styles, the former is much more famous. And they are often filled with seasonal fruits, such as apples in autumn or cherries and plums in spring.
Torta Caprese is such a well-liked dessert that it’s even named after its originating place, Capri island. Despite numerous modern variants, Torta Caprese is simply a flourless cake made with butter, egg yolks, and egg whites.
From there, bakers will add other ingredients like minced almonds, walnuts, and melted chocolate to the mixture. For the finishing touch, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of your cake.
Learn to make a torta Caprese with Giada, an Italian chef:
Though Italian cuisine doesn’t lack any sweet treats, panettone has surpassed all of them to become a Christmas symbol. You can hardly find any Italian house without a panettone on their table on Christmas Eve.
Traditional panettone takes a pretty long time for all fruits in the dough to be thoroughly fermented. However, commercially-made ones take a shortcut by using chocolate, nuts, or making it plain instead.
Delicious cakes are good. But when you want something to nip on while working or lying around, cookies and biscuits are much more decent choices. And these coming from Italian are no less tasty than those in pastry stores.
If you have ever visited a nonna (Italian for grandma) house, they will surely bring up a basket of freshly baked Italian butter cookies. Their sweet fragrance will make you want to devour them all immediately.
Not to mention, their buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture goes perfectly with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, suitable for nipping on rainy days. And if normal ones feel a bit boring, feel free to garnish them with chocolate, fruit jam, or sprinkles.
Coming from the Tuscan city, today biscotti has become one of the most well-liked pastries throughout Italy. You can easily find an Italian nipping these biscottis with a cup of coffee.
One major characteristic of this snack is its extremely dry texture because it’s baked twice for a longer storage time. Tuscan people prefer dipping it into their traditional sweet wine called Vin Sato, but coffee, tea, or milk are an appropriate replacement.
Click here to find out how to change this dry biscotti into a tasty dessert:
Canestrelli may look like other regular cookies. But aside from butter, it also includes hard-boiled yolks, a pretty strange ingredient in baking goods. Because of them, canestrelli can last much longer, even for weeks.
Also, there is a hint of lemon in classic canestrelli that comes from lemon zest. Another suitable alternative for you is orange zest. Both of them help make these cookies more appealing.
These cookies are considered a common commodity in almost all Italian bakeries. Though you can eat them in daily life, Pignoli cookies are a signature treat for Christmas.
Made from almond paste and flour with egg whites, they are also covered in roasted pine nuts. Just one bite will give you a burst of all nutty flavors. Commonly, these cookies are also topped with powdered sugar for more sweetness.
Amaretti are gluten-free Italian cookies made of amaretto (almond liqueur). However, you can replace it with almond extract since the latter is easier to find, and the flavor doesn’t change much.
There are two kinds of amaretti: the soft one and the crunchy one. Soft amaretti is chewier and sweeter, while the other needs longer baking time, thus having a crispier exterior. But both have cracked surfaces.
There are hundreds of recipes about amaretti, and here is one of them:
Another Christmas treat in Italy is cartellate. But of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to this event only. You can make tons of cartellate and eat them any time you want. And if you want to enjoy these cookies in an authentic Italian style, make some espresso or white wine to use with.
Why white wine, you may think that. It’s because cartellate includes it in its dough. Bakers do that to prevent the cooking oil from foaming when they deep fry these cookies. Since their flavor is strong enough, you just need to garnish them lightly with cinnamon and sugar.
In terms of appearance, florentines are no less beautiful than any ornament. Some even use ribbons to hang them as a decoration for their Christmas tree. It’s all because of the patterns made of nuts, candied fruits, and citrus zest in the batter.
Also, right after baking, these biscuits are pretty easy to shape into different forms like muffin cups, cigar shapes, cannoli shells, etc. However, you need to be fast because they will harden when cooling off.
Follow this instruction, you can easily make your own florentines:
Brutti has quite a funny name, literally translated to “ugly but good”. And well, it indicates pretty precisely how these cookies are. With a messy appearance full of cracks, brutti is not the prettiest dessert I’ve ever seen.
However, just like Cinderella turns into a princess, these biscuits will capture your heart right at first bite. Made of meringue and roasted nuts, brutti is soft and crunchy at the same time, making you want to keep eating it forever.
5 Frozen Italian Desserts For A Hot Summer Day
While the two categories above are all classic desserts, it can be pretty challenging to make them on scorching days with all the oven and baking. That’s why in summer, I tend to turn into these icy sweet treats below.
Just like its name (semifreddo means half-frozen), this dessert is cold yet still retains its soft, creamy texture. And unlike ice cream, semifreddo is frozen in a loaf pan and sliced to serve instead of scooped.
Original semifreddo mixture consists of egg yolks, whipped cream, and a meringue. But now, to elevate this dish, pastries add different fruits to it. The most common choices are lemon, berries, cherries, etc.
Panna cotta refers to sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and frozen. There are numerous versions of panna cotta, depending on what you flavor the cream with, like chocolate, vanilla, or coffee. Or it could be based on what toppings your dessert has.
Also, despite its name – panna cotta is “cooked cream” in Italian, this sweet doesn’t really require cooking. You just need to warm the cream up enough so the gelatin and sugar can dissolve in it.
Click here and overcome your fear of a broken panna cotta:
Many people mistake gelato with regular ice cream as they are both frozen desserts. However, there are tons of differences between these two.
First, gelato contains less fat and less air, hence its denser consistency. Also, gelato is often stored at a higher temperature, roughly 15°F, so it’s softer and silkier than ice cream.
Although this frozen dessert comes in fewer flavors, people can taste the gelato flavor much clearer, thanks to its content and texture.
If you ask what frozen dessert is the second most popular after gelato in Italy, my answer would be granita. Different from semifreddo and gelato, granita’s texture varies from one region to another.
In the East, granita tastes as smooth as sorbet, while Palermo granita is much chunkier. They even serve it in numerous ways. Some places eat granita with coffee, whereas others prefer to enjoy it with almonds. All in all, there’s no right or wrong for this frozen treat.
This granita can satisfy your Italian guests in an instant. Check out this video to know:
One Tartufo provides two different textures: soft, creamy gelato in the center and a hardened chocolate shell. When eating, you need to crush the chocolate exterior and eat it with the ice cream inside.
Usually, the gelato inside will have two distinct flavors. Sometimes, people often insert some fruits or fruit syrup between them for more bites. There is no limit to how many versions of Tartufo that you can create.
Do You Know That There Are Italian Sweet Treats Required Frying?
Though Italian cuisine seems to prefer elegance over everything, there’s always room for exceptions. And these desserts here are precisely that.
Bomboloni are like an Italian equivalent of American donuts but with a significant difference: Their filling is hidden completely. By piping cream, spread, or jam inside these bomboloni, bakers allow a bit of the filling to be visible.
One funny fact about this dish lies in its name: Most Italians say “bomboloni” originates from the word “bomba”, which means “bomb” in English, because of their similarity to bombs in terms of look.
Make these to replace your regular donuts now! Let’s see this video:
If you have the chance to go to a traditional Neapolitan holiday meal, you’ll get to try these deep-fried balls as the finishing dessert. And the unique part is how they come out: Crispy struffoli balls are glazed with honey and piled upon each other into a giant pyramid.
According to traditional recipes, struffoli often comes with sprinkles, cinnamon, orange rind, and candied fruit. Another thing you need to remember about this dish is struffoli has different names in various places, like scalilli in Calabria or cicerchiata in Abruzzo.
Same as bomboloni, zeppole is an Italian donut. You can differentiate both of these desserts by looking at their toppings. While bomboloni rarely includes toppings, zeppole has various options, from simple powdered sugar to custard or cherry syrup.
Nowadays, you can find zeppole in numerous pastry shops. But its name has a deep connection with Saint Joseph’s Day, a Catholic festival.
With this guidance, these zeppole donuts can’t be any easier. Check out this video to know:
7 Unique Italian Desserts That Are Waiting For You To Find Out
It’s hard to place these unique dishes into a specific category. Well, instead of paying attention to this small detail, it’s much better to know how delicious they are, don’t you agree?
Cornetto is like an Italian version of a croissant but with more sugar and less butter. Thus, its texture is much softer. Just like croissants, cornetto is a typical breakfast choice, served with espresso or cappuccino.
While plain cornetto is still a favorite dessert of Italian, nowadays, people start adding more and more filling types to it, such as custard, jam, or chocolate cream. If you aren’t into sweet dishes, it’s better to make cornetto yourself to reduce the sugar amount.
Cannoli has been an irreplaceable part of Sicilian cuisine, and I believe it will keep this spot for a long time. Though its appearance is pretty simple, with just tube-shaped shells filled with cheese, cannoli can challenge non-experience bakers.
Cannoli is perfect for those who don’t favor desserts too much since it’s not oversweet. Today, most cannolis have been elevated with dried fruits, chocolate chips, lemon zest, or cinnamon added to the filling.
Here are different versions of cannoli for you to try, check out this video to know:
These waffle-like pizzelle look so beautiful that they could be considered as some kind of ornament. However, to get that gorgeous appearance, you’ll need a specialized pizzelle iron, which is pretty similar to a waffle pan but with snowflake patterns.
While pizzelle are tasty on their own, Italians often take two pizzelle pieces and make a cream sandwich with them. Some even roll them up to use as cannoli shells or make them into bowls for fruits and ice creams.
This beverage-like dessert has spread its popularity all over the world. Now, you can meet its different versions in other countries, like sabayon in France or ponche crema in Venezuela.
Original zabaglione cooks raw egg yolks in a bain-marie and is served with a sweet wine like Marsala or Vin Sato. It’s then served in a cup with some cookies as a dipping sauce. You can omit the alcohol so that even children can enjoy this treat.
In Italian, budino can be understood as custard or pudding. Thus, you can take it as a foreign version of English pudding. Handmade ones are made of butter, sugar, heavy cream, and egg yolks, making them silky and smooth.
If you aren’t too fond of the classical vanilla taste, feel free to spice things up, like changing to brown sugar or topping it with a caramel layer. Pastry shops often serve budino in small jars or parfait glasses so that eaters can enjoy its lovely look.
Check it out to learn the secret behind a restaurant-quality budino:
There are two things Italian people love the most: gelato and coffee. So it’s pretty understandable why they combine both these dishes into one called “affogato”. Honestly, even now, I still don’t know whether it is a dessert or a beverage.
A simple affogato is made by pouring a shot of hot espresso on a scoop of vanilla gelato. Coffee shops often serve this treat in a tall, narrowing glass so that the ice cream is totally drowned in coffee.
Marron glace, also known as candied chestnut, originates in both North Italy and South France. This time, I’ll only talk about the former version. In Italy, “marron” refers to high-quality chestnuts that take less time to peel but are more expensive.
Making marron glace requires soaking all nuts in syrup repeatedly before glazing them. Therefore, if you want to give them away as a gift, it’s better to make them beforehand. These chestnuts taste good on their own, but you can use them in various desserts like Mont Blanc.
Which Italian Desserts Have Caught Your Eyes?
I bet, by now, you must have fallen in love with one or two desserts above. Italian people tend to enjoy their desserts with a cup of coffee. So you can follow for an authentic experience. But if you can’t handle caffeine, tea or milk are decent alternatives.
Don’t forget to share this article with your mates so that you all can prepare a sweet Italian party together. And feel free to share your ideas with other readers in the comment section below!