Five unconventional Italian desserts that you should try

Tiramisu, traditional Italian dessert

Italy is renowned almost everywhere essentially for three features: art, fashion and food. Focusing on the latter, an important role in every proper Italian meal is played by the dessert. Cakes, treats, pies, pastries and many other kind of sweetmeats are included in every Italian region’s gastronomic tradition. Many of them are now appreciated in every part of the world: for example, it’s not a secret that the panettone, the typical Milan’s Christmas baked cake with raisins and candied fruits, has become, through the 20th Century, a sort of national dessert in many Latin American countries (Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile), thanks to the millions of Italian immigrants who established there and their descendants. To the point that they consume it all year round, not only on Christmas.

What many strangers don’t know is that almost every Italian region hides some secrets in its culinary tradition. And now, though we’re not the first ones who try this (for example check here: https://italyxp.com/en/blog/rome/best-italian-desserts), we want to focus on those secrets, unveiling five of them: more specifically, five regional desserts that every tourist or visitor should try if he comes down to Italy, though they’re not internationally known.

  • Seadas. This typical Sardinian dessert is one of the most peculiar ones that you can find in Italy, because of its way to combine sweet and savory. Basically it’s a big dumpling made with bran flour and suet, then filled with a generous amount of Sardinian pecorino cheese. Differently from other traditional cheeses fit for cakes and pastries recipes (like, for example, the mascarpone), the pecorino (so called because it’s made with sheep’s milk) is one of the saltier and most savory ones. The sweet kick is given by the arbutus honey generously poured on top of the dumpling after the cooking process.
  • Pasticciotto. Though it was apparently created in Rome during the 16th Century, through the 1900s this peculiar pastry has become very typical of Salento’s traditional cuisine, especially in the cities of Lecce and Galatina. The recipe is simple and yet yummy: an oval-shaped crunchy short pastry casket filled with custard and served hot. The Neapolitan variation requires the presence of a sour cherry on the inside, right in the middle of the filling.
  • Cantucci. These traditional cookies are a small masterpiece coming out directly from the ancient Tuscany’s cookbooks. Hard biscuits made with flour, sugar, eggs and whole unpeeled almonds. The dough is baked whole, then cut in many slices in the middle of the cooking process and finally baked until the end. The origin of the world “biscotto” (literally: cooked twice) comes from this process, which is also the reason of the peculiar appearance of these cookies: the crusty covering is only on the upper face, while on the two sides the naked dough shows up. Tuscany’s tradition says that the cantucci have to be slightly dipped in a glass of vinsanto (literally: holy wine), a sweet and highly structured amber-coloured wine, and then eaten.
  • Torta Caprese. Despite the name reminds to the island of Capri, this cake is typical of the Amalfi Coast. A delicacy made with flour, sugar, butter, eggs, toasted almonds and a generous amount of dark chocolate, directly blended in the dough. A sprinkling of powdered sugar after the baking completes the work.
  • Chiacchiere. Probably the most renowned Italian traditional Carnival dessert. Depending on the region, these fried pastries take a different name: bugie, frappe, cenci. They are the evolution of the Ancient Roman frictilia, pastries fried in pork’s fat. Basically, they are thin dough stripes made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter and generally an aromatic spirit (sambuca, brandy and marsala the most used), then twisted in a bow shape and fried in seed oil. Once they’re drained from the residual oil, they are sprinkled with powdered sugar.