Panettone is the most internationally well known Italian sweet associated with the holiday season, but it is certainly not the only one. Some ingredients – like candied and dried fruits, nuts, and raisin – are common in many recipes, but in each region sweets are made unique by the addition of peculiar ingredients, such as grappa, black pepper, saffron, cooked must, and figs. Here are some of the most interesting creations of the Italian tradition that you will be able to enjoy only at this time of the year:

RICCIARELLI from Tuscany – To make these almond biscuits of the Sienese tradition the finished mix, with its strong aroma of vanilla and cinnamon, is formed into lozenge-shaped cookies that are set aside for no less than two days before being baked.

PANPEPATO from Umbria – A unique and eccentric harmony of flavors, aromas and textures: the smooth bitterness of dark chocolate, the nutty crunchiness of walnuts and hazelnuts, and the sweetness of honey blended with the spiciness of ground black pepper.

PANDOLCE from Liguria. According to the Genovese tradition, this kind of leavened focaccia, filled with candied fruit, raisins, candied pumpkin, pistachios, and pine nuts ,must be carried to the table by the youngest member of the family, along with a sprig of laurel to symbolize wealth and good luck.

PANGIALLO from Latium – This delicious sweet bread enriched with ricotta derives its name – literally ‘yellow bread’ – from the color of the icing that covers it, which is bright yellow because it contains threads of saffron.

CARTELLATE from Puglia – These traditional sweets are incredibly thin strips of pastry that spread in each Apulian house a concert of aromas of anise, cooked must and cinnamon so intense to stun the senses.

FICHI CHINI from Calabria – Figs are at the heart Calabrian gastronomy and in this holiday season recipe dried figs are filled with almonds, walnuts, chocolate, and candied fruits, then they are overlapped, four by four, to form a cross.

BISCIOLA from Lombardy – More precisely from Valtellina, the original recipe of this dome-shaped sweet bread, which provides for a generous use of walnuts, dried figs and raisins, but also rye flour, grappa, and pine nuts, can be traced back to 1797. Napoleon, who then occupied Northern Italy demanded the cooks to create a recipe using the traditional ingredients of the valley.

SEADAS from Sardinia – A large sweet ravioli of puff pastry stuffed with local pecorino and glazed with honey. The most excellent combination is obtained glazing with the unusual and bitter strawberry tree honey.

Delia Lo Calzo

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