Table of contents:
- Bisciola Valtellinese, Lombardy
- Sebadas, Sardinia
- Christmas log, Piedmont
- Cartellate, Puglia
- Gubana, Friuli Venezia Giulia
- Chini figs, Calabria
- Roman Pangiallo, Lazio
- Panspeziale or Certosino, Emilia Romagna
- Ricciarelli, Tuscany
- Bostrengo, Marche
- Zelten, Trentino Alto Adige
- Struffoli, Campania
- Cubaita, Sicily
- Parrozzo, Abruzzo
From Trentino to Sicily through all of Italy, here are the most typical (and good) Christmas sweets of the Italian tradition
Country you go, Christmas sweets you find. And if the countries in question are the Italian ones there is something to make your mouth water, because if it is true that panettone abroad is considered the Christmas cake typical of Italy, here it is not so obvious.
The Italy of the many local culinary identities, which still lives in the villages, in the provincial towns, in the small and large cities and in the valleys, also (and above all) in the period of the end of year celebrations, gives its best, offering a great variety of typical sweets, each with its history and its particular recipe (which sometimes varies from house to house).
And since the chapter Christmas sweets is the inevitable apotheosis of the quarrel of festive lunches and dinners, at least for the time of this roundup of images forget the calories and enjoy a tour to discover the most typical Christmas sweets of Italy, some less well known, others more well known.
there what we eat at Christmas Region by Region.
Bisciola Valtellinese, Lombardy
Also called Pan di Fich, Bisciola is a sweet leavened bread, prepared with soft wheat flour and rye or buckwheat flour, dairy butter, figs, walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins and pine nuts. It is said to have been born by chance, when Napoleon's troops invaded the north of Italy in 1797. The French soldiers stopped in Valtellina for a stop, before continuing with the last phase of the first Italian Campaign. Napoleon asked a cook to prepare a dessert for him with ingredients and products found on site. Tradition has it that the slices of Bisciola, before being eaten, must be dipped in grappa.
One of the Sardinian sweets of the Sardinian sheep farming tradition and one of the best known even outside the island, is prepared with refined (and very bitter) strawberry tree honey, used as a glaze that covers the large ravioli filled with local pecorino cheese. Considered a dessert exclusively because sprinkled with honey and sugar, they were originally considered a second dish. Their name derives from the dialect word "seu" that is "tallow", and recalls the brilliance that strawberry tree honey gives to this dessert.
Christmas log, Piedmont
Its shape recalls that of a piece of wood, re-enactment of the chestnut or oak trunk that traditionally the Piedmontese peasant families of the past used to keep in the woodshed to warm themselves on Christmas Eve, waiting for the Midnight Mass. The head of the family, surrounded by his loved ones, placed the log in the fireplace, blessed it with a sign of the cross, bathed it with red wine and, while setting it on fire, pronounced the wish formula: "Rejoice the log, tomorrow is the day of bread". Hence the legend according to which the log placed in the fireplace will have to burn for the twelve nights between Christmas and Epiphany, as a sign of good luck. And from the mix of tradition and legend, the Christmas log is a brazenly caloric but irresistible dessert, prepared with eggs, butter, mascarpone, chestnut cream, brandy, cream, chocolate.
The origins of these sweets that at Christmas perfume the Apulian houses with anise, cooked must and cinnamon are not entirely clear and come from afar. According to some it was a specialty prepared in Egypt exclusively for the pharaohs. The origin of the term cartellate is to be found in the Greek kartallos, whose closest meaning is that of basket. And, in fact, tradition has it that the very thin dough during frying takes the shape of the bands of the Child Jesus. Each family jealously guards its own recipe and prepares this dessert in large quantities, which is also excellent cold. Cartellate can be passed in vincotto or honey, or simply eaten fried with a little salt on top.
Gubana, Friuli Venezia Giulia
It has a spiral shape, the appearance is that of good and genuine homemade sweets of the past and is a symbol of Friuli, where it is traditional to give it at Christmas to wish prosperity and wealth. Made from leavened dough, it is stuffed with dried fruit, raisins, macaroons and soaked in grappa. It owes its name to its characteristic spiral shape: "gubat", in fact, means "to wrap" in the Friulian dialect. Gubana requires three days of processing to be prepared, but if stored in a cool and dry place it keeps the fragrance and goodness unaltered for months.
Chini figs, Calabria
Product of a traditional process, which combines a method of conservation such as the natural drying of figs, the filling with almonds, walnuts, chocolate, candied figs, the chini figs are the glory of Calabrian gastronomy. In Calabria they are often prepared at home and given to friends and relatives as a gift. Tradition has it that four figs open in half are superimposed to form a cross, a religious symbol of Christmas. It was probably thanks to the idea of some nuns that these sweets took the shape of a Christian cross.
Roman Pangiallo, Lazio
Another pandolce typical of festivals, which dates back to imperial Rome where it was used to prepare it on the day of the winter solstice as a good omen for the return of long sunny days. It owes its name to the color of the glaze that covers it. Traditionally the pangiallo was obtained by mixing dried fruit, honey and candied citron, which was then cooked and covered with a layer of egg batter. Today there are many variations that can be found, but among the ingredients there is no shortage of saffron and ricotta.
Panspeziale or Certosino, Emilia Romagna
The typical Christmas dessert of Bolognese cuisine is based on chocolate, honey, Bolognese mustard, candied fruit, pine nuts and butter. It is also called panspeziale and, in dialect, zrtuséin or panspzièl. Its name derives from the fact that in the Middle Ages it was produced by pharmacists (or apothecaries). Only later were the Carthusian friars to take care of its production. To taste the best panspeziel, it should be cut into thin slices, the thickness of a noodle. With ingredients similar to Pan Speziale, but even more nutritious (hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, candied cherries and cognac are added to the mixture), Panone di Natale is another Christmas cake from the Bolognese countryside that changes recipe from house to house.
A typical Christmas cake of Sienese origin made with soft almond paste, combined with the scents of vanilla and cinnamon. History traces the origin of this biscuit back to the Middle Ages, when marzipan - probably imported from the East - was processed to produce the typical sweets of the city of the Palio mainly in convents or in old apothecary shops. Although the recipe varies from family to family, the processing is the same for everyone, which involves a dough with sweet almonds, sugar and egg white to be cooked in the oven. It is essential to maintain the original oval shape, with a thickness of around 15mm, a maximum weight of 30 grams each and the largest diagonal between 50mm and 105mm. When cooked, add the icing sugar. Tradition has it that they are consumed in combination with the typical Vin Santo of the area or even with a Moscatello di Montalcino.
A traditional Marche dessert of ancient origins, prepared in the Montefeltro area at Christmas and on all exceptional occasions that deserve to be celebrated. In ancient times it was also called "cupboard" because to do so you used a little everything that was in the house. Born as a poor dish of the Christmas period (it recovers stale bread, to which candied fruit, dried figs, sultanas and cooked must are added), over the centuries the bostrengo has been enriched with delicious ingredients such as cocoa, honey, dried fruit, rum. Fristingo, frustingo, frostengo, pistingo the sweet from the Marche changes its name according to the area and recipe within a few kilometers.
Zelten, Trentino Alto Adige
The typical Christmas cake of Trentino is a fruity and richly spiced bread. It is an enriched version of homemade bread, made with dried fruit, candied fruit, raisins. In German "zelten" means "sometimes", to highlight the exceptional nature of the preparation of the dessert only during the Christmas period. Zelten is widespread throughout Trentino Alto Adige, with ingredients that change from valley to valley, from family to family. You can simply try to distinguish between Zelten from Trentino - poorer in fruit, but with a larger quantity of pasta - and South Tyrolean Bolzano, in which the quantity of fruit is more important. Common ingredients in all preparations are flour, eggs, butter, sugar, yeast, nuts, dried figs, almonds and pine nuts (photo credit: Alto Adige Marketing, Helmuth Rier).
Among the typical sweets linked to the renowned Neapolitan pastry tradition, together with roccocò, susamielli, divino amore and zeppole, struffoli are the cheerful balls of fried dough tied with honey and covered with multicolored diavulilli (colored sugared almonds). In the Neapolitan recipe candied fruit dominates with a starring role for the pumpkin, the famous cucuzzata. The origin of the struffoli is Greek: the name derives from strongulos, that is a spherical, rounded or hollowed pasta.
It is the typical Sicilian nougat and exactly from Modica, a city in the province of Ragusa. It comes from the distant Middle East and the main ingredient of Cuba is sesame. Particularly fragrant, thanks also to the presence of honey, orange peel and lemon, it is a true triumph of authentic smells and flavors. But for it to be a true cubaita, it is important that the almonds are almost whole and the cake has a thickness of one centimeter at the most.
A typical dessert of the Abruzzo Christmas tradition, so good that Gabriele D’Annunzio composed "La Canzone del Parrozzo" in his homage. Originally it was the pan rozzo, a bread in use among peasants made with corn flour and baked in the oven. Then a pastry chef revisited it in a sweet way: the eggs in the dough gave the yellow due to the corn, the chopped almonds reproduced the graininess of the bread dough and the scorched color of the crust was reproduced by adding chocolate. Since then, the parozzo is made with a mixture of semolina and almonds and a dark chocolate coating, it has the characteristic hemispherical shape that reveals a soft, yellow and fragrant paste inside. Parrozzo can be flavored with amaretto or bitter almonds.