Christmas in Italy: seven of the most famous Italian Christmas desserts

Panforte Panforte is a traditional Tuscan cake with ancient origins, intended at the time to be eaten by nobility only. The name means "acid bread" and is made with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, spices and honey. The texture is quite soft and with a very rich taste. Great gift idea because it keeps good for long time.

Struffoli. Photo credits



Perhaps the most famous Christmas dessert, eaten not only in Italy but also in other countries of the world, nowadays it’s made in thousands of different ways, but the basic recipe of the filling remains very simple: raisins, candied fruit, almonds and sugar on top.

Genoa Cake or Pandolce

As the Italian name implies, pandolce Genovese is a sweet bread made with raisins, pine nuts and candid fruit. There are two types of it, high and low, depending on which yeast has been used to make it: low is made with chemical yeast most of the times, high is prepared with sour dough and left to rise slowly.


Pangiallo is a typical Lazio cake that is mostly made during Christmas period. Vaguely resembling gingerbread in Emilia Romagna, its name comes from the fact that it’s more a cake than a bread and its colour is mainly yellow. It is made with chocolate, honey, nuts, cinnamon, nuts, raisins, nutmeg, cocoa, dried figs and candid orange peel.


Struffoli are a typical dessert from Campania region, (but they are made in other versions throughout the South of Italy) that is more eaten during Christmas. They are small balls of fried dough, passed in honey and "seasoned" with coloured sprinkles. Crispy outside and soft inside, it’s one of the most famous dessert that cannot be missed on Christmas tables.


Cartellate or "carteddate" are pulled dough rose, made with a very thin dough layer, then closed with pinches between the layers and then deep fried and soaked in mosto cotto or honey. They are very friable and rich in taste, and they are made not only during the Christmas but also during Carnival and Easter.


Typical Veneto specialties, together with pandoro cake, is one of the most famous Italian Christmas cakes. Its preparation, such as panettone, requires many hours between making the dough and baking. Pandoro dough is golden in colour and very soft, without candy or other additional ingredients, you can only eat it with a dusting of powdered sugar on top or with a little bit of mascarpone sauce.


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