The ultimate Italian desserts

4 minutes to read

Italian desserts may not be as sophisticated and diverse as the French ones. However, some mouthwatering Italian delicacies really deserve our attention. The Italian desserts, such as tiramisu and gelato have a special quality that makes them memorable despite their simplicity. They always make the eaters feel happy, perhaps because the enthusiasm of the makers shines through the food. Let's start with the most popular Italian dessert of all times: the tiramisu.

Tiramisu

When we speak of Italian food, we speak of pizza, pasta, and tiramisu. Consisting of eggs, sugar, mascarpone cheese, ladyfingers, coffee, and cocoa powder, tiramisu is a melt-in-the-mouth Italian dessert. The word tiramisu means "cheer me up" or "pick me up", hence its cheerful connotation. [...] Some said that tiramisu had been invented in Treviso in the North of Italy in the 1960s by a restauranteur called Roberto Linguanotto. Then the dessert quickly became popular in the US in the 1980s thanks to the chef Lidia Bastianich. She had helped her grandmother make tiramisu since childhood, and as she opened her restaurant Felidia, she introduced tiramisu into her menu. Now, tiramisu has truly become an international dessert. - Vy Tran, "The Tasty Tiramisu"

A full story about tiramisu is available on itinari: "The Tasty Tiramisu" by Vy Tran.

Try the popular coffee-flavoured Italian dessert, the tiramisu
Try the popular coffee-flavoured Italian dessert, the tiramisu
Vénétie, Italie
Pompi Tiramisu, Rome
Pompi Tiramisu, Rome
Via della Croce, 82, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Gelato

In Rome, my to-go gelaterias are La Gourmandise in the residential neighborhood called Monteverde Vecchio, and Il Gelato di San Crispino in the center. I almost always order the pistachio and hazelnut flavors but sometimes I am an adventurous taster. The pistachio gelato at La Bottega del Gelato in Pisa was top-notch, but the one that won the title "The Best Gelato in the World" in 2017 was in Spoleto. In Numana in Marche, and in Corniglia in Cinque Terre, I tried some fruity innovative flavors, such as the combinations of chamomile, lemon balm and passion flowers, as well as cherry and ginger. My most favorite gelateria in Italy is a local-favorite in Giudecca, in Venice. I loved all the flavors there and the freshness of the gelato left me speechless. - Vy Tran, "Where to find the best gelato in Italy"

A full story about gelato is available on itinari: "Where to find the best gelato in Italy" by Vy Tran.

Gelateria Crispini
Gelateria Crispini
Viale Trento e Trieste, 29, 06049 Spoleto PG, Italy

Panna cotta

Panna cotta is another simple yet addictive dessert, and its name means "cooked cream". The dessert consists of three simple ingredients: sugar, cream, and gelatin. While panna cotta's texture is like jelly, its taste is like "fior di latte" (the classic gelato flavor). The most popular way to serve panna cotta is with a berry sauce. You can find panna cotta in many traditional Italian restaurants. If you prefer to make it at home, try this recipe by Mary Berry:

One of the best Italian dessert, Panna cotta
One of the best Italian dessert, Panna cotta
Piémont, Italie

Cannolo

Cannolo siciliano: is there any other Italian dessert so popular in the world? Tiramisù may be one of its more glorious competitors, but the "cannolo making" is an art that can’t be reproduced at home with the same simplicity. We can all make a good tiramisù in our own kitchen, but preparing cannoli right is far from an easy task. Cannoli siciliani have also a huge identity-defining power: Italian bakeries all over the world mark their presence on the shelves as a symbol of “italianità” and heritage, associated with only a handful of other products. - Eleonora Ruzzenenti, "The King Of Sicilia: The Cannolo"

A full story on cannolo is available on itinari: "The King Of Sicilia: The Cannolo" by Eleonora Ruzzenenti.

Pasticceria Capello - Palermo
Pasticceria Capello - Palermo
Via Colonna Rotta, 68, 90134 Palermo PA, Italy

Biscotti

Biscotti means "cookies". I didn't used to be a big fan of the Italian cookies. However, a visit to a family-owned bakery in Trastevere in Rome made me change my mind - the bakery was called Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti. I could tell that all their cookies were freshly made with love, because every single one of them tasted so homey and delicious. In order to find tasty Italian cookies, you must eat them fresh from the right bakery. Avoid buying Italian cookies in packages from supermarkets.

Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti, Rome
Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti, Rome
Via della Luce, 21, 00153 Roma RM, Italy

Chocolate

Chocolate arrived in italy with the Spaniards, who brought it from the New World into Modica, in Sicily, which still produces it, following the original Aztec recipe. The Venetians, who were always open to trade and to new influences, started serving and drinking it in the city’s cafes. However, it was Torino which really became the first capital of chocolate and, perhaps that was due to the Savoy family—The Duke Emanuele Filiberto who brought to Torinoboth the precious cocoa beans, his son Carlo Emanuele I, who served hot chocolate at his wedding feast, and his grand-daughter-in-law Madama Reale, who granted the first chocolate making licence to a Turinese confectioner, Giò Antonio Ari. From Torino, Venezia and Modica it started spreading across the rest of the country. - Eleonora Ruzzenenti, "Italian Chocoholism"

A full story on Italian chocolate is available on itinari: "Italian Chocoholism" by Eleonora Ruzzenenti.

Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto
Corso Umberto I, 97015 Modica RG, Italy

Panettone

The most traditional way to celebrate Christmas in Italy is to have a panettone, which is a sweet bread. Panettone tastes like something between bread and  cake. My favorite part of the panettone is the dried fruit. Sometimes, alcohol is even added for extra flavor. While you can buy panettone in supermarkets, it is best to get the fresh ones from traditional bakeries. Sadly, panettones are only made during Christmas, otherwise, I would eat them every day (just kidding).

Panettone, a sweet bread from Milano
Panettone, a sweet bread from Milano
Milan, Italie

I am addicted to tiramisu, gelato, and panettone. What about you? What are your favorite Italian desserts?


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The author

Vy Tran

Vy Tran

Vy grew up in Hanoi but defines herself as a global citizen. She loves Dutch Golden Age paintings, dining at Michelin restaurants, watching warm sunsets and Italy, where she would be willing to spend her life.

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