Best Desserts in Italy: 14 Traditional Italian Desserts for the Sweet Tooth Foodie

Best Desserts in Italy: 14 Traditional Italian Desserts for the Sweet Tooth Foodie

If there’s one thing people associate Italy with, it’s the country’s delicious cuisine. It’s hard not to think of pizza, spaghetti, and a whole host of other classic Italian dishes when you hear that phrase. However, it would be a grave error on our behalf if we neglected to talk about dessert, which is universally acknowledged as one of the best portions of any dinner.

The Italians can’t get enough of their sweets. To the point where there is no need to question whether or not a dessert will be served after dinner since there most certainly will be. Every time, the overwhelming response is yes, yes, yes!

Although there are a great number of delectable sweets to choose from, you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to sample these top 14 desserts from Italy. If you want to locate these local favourites while you’re there, it’s possible that you’ll have to walk quite a bit. However, the fight with one’s diet is quite genuine. We go on adventures in search of tasty snacks!

DESSERT IN ITALY

Desserts in other regions of the globe are often not the same as those served in Italy. Dolci, which is the Italian word for sweets, are often quite a bit more diminutive. The ideal way to finish off any meal is with just a few nibbles of something sweet. You will never witness an Italian diving headfirst into a banana split after a meal, not even on a languid Sunday afternoon.

Their desserts often consist of a tiny cone or cup of gelato, a little dessert to compliment a meal, or a cup of Cioccolata Calda, which is Italian hot chocolate, on a chilly day during the winter. The same may be said about beverages made with Italian coffee. You won’t find the enormous dessert beverages at Starbucks that are topped with sprinkles and caramel drizzle (ugh).

The only thing that you actually want is a single shot of espresso, a beautifully constructed and dainty little Italian drink, or a digestive. Consider the example of Vin Santo, which is the ideal sweet dessert wine to serve with a single bite-sized biscotti.

That certainly comes as a shock to the system when it comes to one’s eating. More space for pizza!

In addition, much like the rest of the country’s cuisine, desserts in Italy exhibit a large degree of regional and seasonal variation. The desserts that are popular in one part of the nation can’t be compared to those offered in another part of the country due to the significant regional distinctions. Each area is known for producing its own unique delicacies.

Whatever your preferences may be, one thing can be said for certain. You won’t go away from Italy feeling let down. These sweets are among the very finest that can be found anywhere on the globe.

Now is the time to settle down, take it easy, and bring your appetite along with you, because we are about to get down to business. Here is a list of the 12 Italian sweets that are considered to be the most traditional as well as the most delectable.

Free tiramisu cake dessert image, public domain CC0 photo.

BEST DESSERTS IN ITALY, AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

1. Apple Strudel

Where may one get the very best? Trentino-Alto Adige’s South Tyrol is known as Südtirol.

It’s possible that when you think of Italian desserts, apple strudel is the last thing that comes to mind. However, in South Tyrol, a vast northern region of Italy where the jagged peaks of the Dolomites tower over green mountain meadows and hearty fare like dumplings reign supreme on every menu, apfelstrudel is one of South Tyrol’s most beloved foods and one of the most traditional Italian desserts you’ll find.

It should come as no surprise that apple strudel and other apple-based baked delicacies like dumplings and tortes are popular given the availability of apples throughout the year. If you like traditional apple pies from the United States, you won’t want to miss out on the strudel that can be found in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige.

2. Gelato

Where may one get the very best? Everywhere!

When most people think of Italy, the picture that comes to mind is of a local carrying a cup of gelato as they go about their day. This more flavorful alternative to ice cream is perhaps the most well-known dessert that can be found in Italy.

Even better is the fact that you do not need a justification in order to indulge. Gelato is one of the most popular dishes consumed al passage, which literally translates to “food eaten on the street,” and you can see Italians strolling in and out of gelaterias at any time of day and in every corner of the nation.

The combinations are almost endless, and they range from time-honoured classics like pistachio and stracciatella (sweet cream with chocolate bits) to outlandish tastes like ricotta and liquorice.

What distinguishes it from ice cream, then, specifically? We did not anticipate that you would inquire. The icy dessert is not like regular ice cream in a variety of significant characteristics that make it stand out from the category.

To begin, gelato is created with a greater proportion of milk than cream, which results in a much lower total amount of fat when compared to ice cream produced in the United States. In addition to that, it is served at a temperature that is somewhat higher, which prevents it from freezing completely.

Ice cream made in the traditional manner is beaten with air and water to increase its weight and volume, which makes the ice cream less thick and less tasty. The increased amount of fat contributes to the product having a longer shelf life.

Gelato is not designed to be kept in the refrigerator. Because it is prepared in modest quantities and rapidly frozen, it retains a greater degree of taste and freshness, and the very finest of it may be consumed only a few days after it has been created. It is not served with an ice cream scoop either, so don’t look for that. The genuine material is removed from the container using a spoon-like shovel.

Even though we’ve never had a gelato that we didn’t enjoy, we strongly advise you to avoid going to any gelaterias that serve flavours that are vivid neon colours in every hue of the rainbow. The greatest products are often found in shops that have a more classic appearance.

Gelato ice cream. Free public domain CC0 photo.

3. Tiramisu

Where may one get the very best? Treviso in Veneto

This mood-boosting Italian delicacy, which literally translates to “pick-me-up,” is made with layers of mascarpone cheese and ladyfingers that have been soaked in coffee. The alcoholic flavour may optionally be added to the sugary delight, but doing so is recommended.

Even though this sweet probably had its start in Italy, it wasn’t until it became famous in the United States that most restaurants started including it on their menus.

Today, one of the most well-known Italian specialities that are offered in the United States is called tiramisu. It doesn’t matter whether it’s presented in individual glasses or if it’s split into pieces like a cake; you always eat it with a spoon. Strawberries, or even Nutella, are just two examples of fruit that may be used in different variants.

4. Cannoli

Where may one get the very best? Sicily

Dolci, a kind of sweet often associated with Italy, originated in Sicily and is widely considered to be the most emblematic example of traditional Sicilian cuisine. Campagnolo is the single form of the word cannoli; hence, it is important to avoid making the request for “one cannoli.”

The shells, which are in the form of tubes and are fried, are often filled with a piece of sweetened ricotta cheese and then occasionally coated in chocolate, candied fruit, or pistachios. Cannoli is a classic Sicilian delicacy, although you can get it at bakeries and grocery stores all across the country.

Depending on where in Italy you are, the luscious filling may also include chocolate or chocolate chips. This varies from region to region.

The question now is, how do you identify the finest ones? Look for instances that contain nothing except shells. Filling the tubes only after they have been ordered prevents them from becoming squishy.

5. Panna Cotta

Where may one get the very best? Piedmont

This classic Italian delicacy literally translates to “baked cream,” and it has its roots in Piemonte, an area of Italy that is well-known for the quality of its dairy products. Gelatin is used to add body to fresh cream, which is then put in a mould in the form of a dome and allowed to cure until it is firm enough to stand on its own.

This delicacy, which is similar to custard, may have fresh fruit, chocolate, or caramel sauce poured on top of it before serving. In other renditions, the cream is flavoured with coffee, vanilla, or a combination of these and other ingredients.

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6. Sfogliatelle

Where may one get the very best? located in Campania’s Naples

One of the most well-known dishes native to Campania is the classic Italian dessert known as sfogliatelle, which gets its name from the city of Naples and is pronounced for-yah-TELL-eh. In a city like Naples, where baked goods are a way of life, this accomplishment is particularly noteworthy.

The dessert that is most synonymous with the city of Naples is known as sfogliatelle. The name of this dish literally translates to “lobster tail,” which is a reference to the seashell form that is produced by the several layers of dough that are cooked until they become crisp.

The clam-shaped pastry is made out of delicate, thin layers on the outside, and the inside is filled with a combination of sweetened ricotta cheese and citrus or orange peel (occasionally chocolate or cinnamon, depending on the bakery), which gives it just the perfect amount of sweetness. Because they are available in a variety of sizes, you may choose to indulge in one as a dessert or have a smaller one as a sweet snack with your morning coffee.

It is enjoyable to eat, and the greatest part is that it can be consumed at any time of the day. You know you’ve found a location worth loving when snacking on baked goods in the middle of the day is not only socially acceptable but also strongly encouraged!

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7. Cantucci

Where may one get the very best? Tuscany

Tuscany is the birthplace of these almond pastries that have been cooked twice. In spite of the fact that you may hear people in the United States refer to them as biscotti, the actual meaning of the word “biscotti” in Italian is more of an umbrella phrase that encompasses a variety of other kinds of cookies.

Cantucci are traditionally prepared without the use of butter or oil. The dough is rolled into a log, cooked, and then cut into diagonal slices using a knife with serrations. After that, the cookies go through one more baking process, which dries them up and gives them their signature crunchiness.

Almonds are often used in recipes, but they are readily interchangeable with other ingredients such as chocolate chips, hazelnuts, pistachios, or even dried fruit.

The biscuits are usually had at the end of a meal with Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine from Tuscany. However, they are also excellent for dunking in hot beverages like coffee, tea, or cappuccino. When stored in an airtight container, they will maintain their quality for many weeks.

8. Panettone

Where may one get the very best? Milan in Lombardy

This typical Italian sweet bread first appeared in Milan, but it is now widely available throughout the whole of Italy. Raisins and candied citrus peels are often distributed unevenly throughout the cake-like consistency. Although you may buy it manufactured at other times of the year, it is generally consumed during the winter holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s, because of its fruity flavour and light texture. For generations, Italians have been baking and enjoying the sweet bread known as panettone.

In point of fact, they devour almost 4.5 pounds of it a year because they like it so much. It is traditionally eaten with a warm beverage or a sweet wine, but it is equally delicious when sliced, toasted, or covered in a layer of sweet crème di mascarpone.

9. Tartufo

Where may one get the very best? Pizzo in Calabria

The word “truffle” comes from the Italian word “tartufo,” which refers to a chocolate-covered bombe that has two types of ice cream and a fruit core that is sticky. When chef Giuseppe de Maria was making a dessert to commemorate a very significant wedding, he ran out of cups and was forced to improvise. The famous dish had its start in Pizzo, which is widely considered to be the ice cream capital of the nation.

As he scrambled to find a method to feed the hundreds of people who had RSVP’d for the party, he started rolling the dessert into a ball and wrapping it around a pool of molten chocolate before coating it in sugar and cocoa powder. Tartufo di Pizzo is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of a dessert anywhere in the world, and it is still prepared with ice cream composed of chocolate and hazelnuts.

It is also a certified IGP (Indication of Geographic Protection) product, which means that the label may only be applied to Tartufo that is made in the town of Pizzo.

10. Zeppole

Where may one get the very best? Lazio and Apulia

One of the most delicious sweets in Italy, these fried dough balls are also one of the most classic Roman desserts. They are known for their light and airy texture. They may be prepared as traditional Italian street food by being thrown in a paper bag and shook with powdered sugar, or they can be presented on a tray and spruced up by being dipped in either chocolate or raspberry sauce.

In Italy, the Feast of Saint Joseph is commemorated annually with a special variety of zeppole known as Zeppole di San Giuseppe. This dessert is characterised by a topping consisting of cream and black cherries. One thing is clear, and that is the fact that it is practically difficult to have just one of these, regardless of how they are served.

11. Babá Al Rum

Where may one get the very best? located in Campania’s Naples

The rum-soaked sponge cake has become a symbol of Campania and Naples in particular, where the bite-size rum cakes are among the most scrumptious street delicacies in Naples. Campania is known for its rum production, and Naples is particularly known for its rum cakes. The alcoholic treat that is sometimes called to as Baba Napoli really has its roots in Eastern Europe, despite the fact that it is often associated with southern Italy.

The dessert was brought to Naples by personal cooks serving the elite, and it soon garnered universal favour once it was introduced there. After being prepared in individual cylinder moulds, the cake is then submerged in an orange syrup that has been flavoured with rum.

It is often served with a glob of whipped cream, but even when eaten on its own, it is wonderful.

12. Zabaglione (Sabayon)

Where may one get the very best? Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, and Tuscany are all regions of Italy.

Egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine are the three primary ingredients of this classic custard. The combination is whisked while being cooked until it thickens to a consistency that is light and delicate.

While it is still hot, it may be poured into custard glasses and garnished with fruit, nuts, or flavoured sauces. This can be done while it is still in the cooking process. The uncomplicated pleasure serves as an excellent foundation for a diverse range of creations.

For a summertime dessert that is not only delicious but also good for you, try topping it with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

13. Pasticciotto

Where may one get the very best? Lecce in Apulia

This sweet dish has the appearance of a spherical little pie with a flaky crust; nevertheless, the true surprise is waiting within. The classic Apulian dessert of pasticcio is filled with a smooth custard and is made even more decadent with the addition of juicy black cherries.

This sweet treat may be found in other regions of Italy as well, and it can be stuffed with everything from syrupy fruit fillings to custard to chocolate that is rich and creamy. Because of its compact spherical form, this dessert is ideal for a quick dose of sweetness after dinner.

14. Affogato

Where may one get the very best? The Tuscan city of Florence

A shot of freshly brewed espresso is poured over a scoop (or two) of luscious vanilla or hazelnut gelato, and the combination is sure to become your new go-to pick-me-up. The icy texture of the gelato and the scalding heat of the coffee come together to create the ideal combination of tastes.

This sweet dessert is a traditional Italian dish that exemplifies the essence of Italian cuisine in its purest form: simple but very satisfying. You could even add a shot of booze to the espresso if you’re in the mood for something a little rowdier. Why should we?

In Italy, you may not always find this item mentioned on the menu, but it is virtually always available if you make a special request for it. You can even buy it on the street in Florence and other areas of Tuscany in little plastic cups; it’s the ideal late-afternoon Florence street snack!

WHAT TO DRINK WITH YOUR ITALIAN DESSERT

Espresso

We haven’t been able to find a place in Italy that doesn’t serve espresso, and when we have, it’s usually located in the same building as, or right next to, a gelateria. The Italians are huge fans of espresso and drink it many times each day.

Espresso is produced by pushing extremely hot water under pressure through very finely ground coffee grounds; the resulting beverage has a taste that is very coffee-forward and is topped with a coating of crema.

In addition to that, it may serve as the foundation for other types of coffee beverages, such as cappuccino, caffe latte or mocha, and macchiato. In the most upscale coffee shops, the barista would carefully draw a lovely pattern into the crema using their skills.

Limoncello

This lemon liqueur is most common in southern Italy, particularly around the Amalfi Coast, where grapefruit-sized lemons are used to make the local speciality. It is offered at every restaurant in the region around Naples, as well as on the island of Capri.

Even after something as simple as a bowl of soup, it’s likely that a shot or two of limoncello will be brought to the table as a digestive at the very end of the meal. What a wonderful practice having!

Making your own Limoncello at home is also surprisingly straightforward. If you find the taste of oranges more appealing than that of lemons, giving Arancello made from oranges a go is an option that should not be overlooked.

ITALIAN DESSERT SNACKS

Torrone

This delectable dessert made of Italian nougat and nuts is said to have originated in southern Europe. It is sure to fulfil the cravings of anybody with a sweet appetite. It is prepared with sugar, honey, egg whites, and often an orange essence. It is crammed full of roasted almonds, and sometimes pistachios are added to boost the taste even more.

In most cases, it will be presented as thin slabs or logs that have been cut into a rectangular form. It has a thin layer of edible wafers on the top and bottom to prevent it from adhering together. Torrone has long been one of our family’s favourite holiday treats, but you don’t have to wait until the holidays to give it a try.

Taralle

This kind of snack food originates from the region of Foggia in Puglia, which is where my grandma was born and raised, and my family grew up eating them! It is possible for a parallel to be rather little, around the size of a penny (called tortellini), or it may be somewhat bigger, about the size of a plum. They may be prepared in either a sweet or savoury manner; however, the recipes that are the most often consumed combine the wheat flour with anise or rosemary.

So, did you end up locating your new go-to Italian sweet treat? We hope you found this article enjoyable, and that you’ll keep these Italian sweets in mind the next time you find yourself in Italy.

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