Tiramisu, Cannoli, Pana cotta, Semifreddo or Zeppole – creamy, layered pudding-cake, stuffed pastry, sweet or fruity custard, frozen delights or a sweet and puffy pastry feast – take your pick. Italian desserts are an irresistible array of fruits, puddings, pastries, cakes and creams for every palette and every occasion from the feast of St. Joseph to personal favourites to suit your every sweet-tooth desire.
Tiramisu is most surely the most well-known and loved of all Italian desserts and one of the most storied after-dinner delights of Mascarpone custard layered with whipped cream and rum and coffee soaked ladyfingers, the Italian favorite, Tiramisu, is not just a favorite on the continent. The many adaptations of this classic, offer a cake Tiramisu or a more pudding-style dessert. However you enjoy it, you will find that true to its name, Tiramisu will offer an energetic “pick me up”. Tiramisu is disputed as originating in Veneto or Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Both are regions in northern Italy. Perhaps the most adventurous foodie traveler will traverse the northern regions to investigate and end the debate. Perhaps more fun is the claim that tiramisu is an aphrodisiac. Some say Tiramisu was created and served in the brothels of Treviso – a town known for its relaxed views. Others say it was invented in 1960 in a restaurant Le Beccherie – also in Treviso.
A cherry-kissed, sweetly dusted Italian dessert pastry, zeppole is a traditional cream puff – a classic in Italian fare – a dessert for any occasion. Hailing from Naples the zeppole is the favorite fritter of Naples. A zeppola or many zeppole can be dressed to your taste with sweet toppings – honey and butter or cheese, chocolate cream or jam, these traditionally a food of Naples this pastry that has made its way throughout Italy in many iterations, the tradition of celebrating the March Feast of St. Joseph with these sweet treats is alive and well.
Beyond the cake, pudding, and doughnuts of tiramisu and zeppole, Italian sweet and chilly mousse-style treat semifreddo or half cold is a creamy frozen dessert that can be flavoured with Nutella for sweet lovers or with lemon and berries for a more tart taste or who could resist a chocolate semifreddo, dark or milky.
Pana Cotta and Cannoli are two Italian desserts both built on a foundation of cream – a richness enjoyed in many sweet treats. One, Pana Cotta, is a moulded dessert enjoyed throughout the country, garnished with coulis, chocolate, berries or caramel sauce while Cannoli, also a cream dessert, is a filled pastry originating in Sicily. Historically, a celebratory treat made during carnival season. Today cannoli is an every-day treat – a tube of delicious, sweet cream surrounded by flakey pastry.
While Tiramisu on of the most well-known sweets from Italy, so many other Italian desserts are also creamy, custardy treats flavoured with coffee or chocolate. Italian sweets can be tart-like, cakey-like or pudding-like; they can be hand-held or scooped by spoon. Whether frozen or not - Italian desserts are delicious and the perfect end a family dinner or one of many celebratory feasts enjoyed in the country.