Here’s a collection of authentic Italian desserts and traditional Italian pastries recipes from various regions of Italy. Trust me — it’s tough to pick a favorite. Keep reading and judge for yourself!
Let me to tell you right away; there is no tiramisu in this list.
Not because I don’t like it, but because I believe there’s a lot MORE than tiramisu when it comes to traditional Italian desserts and pastries.
See for yourself!
CHECK OUT THE REST OF MY ITALIAN CUISINE SERIES!
- Authentic Italian Cookie Recipes
- Best Italian Street Food Recipes
- Classic Italian Appetizers
- Traditional Italian Recipes: Regional Italian Dishes
- Authentic Italian Bread Recipes
Pasta frolla is a sweet shortcrust pastry dough used for Italian pastries across all the regions of the country.
Despite being called ‘sweet shortcrust,’ it’s not as sweet nor as buttery as the regular ones.
And the best part? You can easily make pasta frolla without a food processor. All you need is a fork and a rolling pin, and you’re all set.
Bonet alla Piemontese (Italian Chocolate Custard)
A double dose of goodness from the region of Piemonte, bonet is an authentic Italian dessert that contains chocolate and custard. How can you possibly go wrong with that?
Traditionally, this Italian chocolate custard contains rum, but it can also be replaced with some vanilla (or almond) extract if you’re serving it to kids.
For sure, though, this Italian dessert looks and tastes like it takes a lot of effort to prepare. But nope.
Torta di Nocciole (Italian Hazelnut Cake)
It has a minimal number of ingredients, but just like its cookie counterpart, brutti ma buoni — you’ll get undeniable hazelnut flavor in every bite of torta di nocciole.
The only thing to watch out for when making this Italian hazelnut cake is that you don’t overprocess the nuts when grounding — or you’ll end up with hazelnut butter.
Panettone is a traditional Milanese Christmas cake that is now available in all Italian regions.
It’s called a cake, but this classic Italian dessert’s texture is closer to bread – a ‘pillowy soft‘ bread with some dried lemon peels.
Make sure you have a glass of prosecco ready when serving this.
Torta della Nonna (Italian Custard Pie)
Also known as ‘Nonna’s cake,’ this classic Italian pie comes in two versions.
First is where the Italian cream is between the top and bottom shortcrust pastry, and the other where you only get the pie at the bottom.
Whichever version of torta della nonna you prefer, you can easily prepare it at home while using a traditional Italian shortcrust pastry as well — pasta frolla.
Torta di Mele (Italian Apple Cake)
Here’s a cake that is as delicious as it looks. Seriously.
Aside from those sliced apples on top, there are bits of apple inside this Italian apple cake, so you get a burst of apple flavor in every bite.
Don’t just take my word for it; go ahead and give it a try.
Castagnaccio (Tuscan Chestnut Cake)
Castagnaccio is an excellent dessert for autumn — when the days are getting shorter, and of course, the chestnuts are in season.
It certainly warms you up, and the cake is undeniably made of chestnuts — you get that deep nutty flavor, not sugar overload.
Tea or wine is my favorite beverage for this classic Tuscan dessert.
Originally from Siena, the only way to describe this authentic Italian Christmas cake is a deliciously less-sweet and less-boozy fruit cake.
Even without the edible paper at the bottom of the cake (which is something they always have in Sienna), panforte still screams ‘Christmas‘ in every bite!
It’s one of the best accompaniments that you can serve with fresh fruits.
Mascarpone cream is so delicate that it will never overwhelm the fruit; it just enhances its natural flavors.
You don’t believe it? Try it with fresh strawberries, and you’ll surely be hooked!
Affogato (Italian Coffee and Ice Cream)
Full disclosure, no one can tell where affogato originated.
But since I encountered this Italian coffee and ice cream first in San Leo, I am placing it in that part of the country.
It is, hands-down, the easiest authentic Italian dessert to prepare. You wouldn’t think so when you’re enjoying a serving of it.
You combine two of Italy’s most-loved snacks to come up with an even more special treat. A couple of scoops of gelato and a shot of espresso, and you’re good to go.
Ciambella Arance e Carote (Italian Orange & Carrot Cake)
Here is a moist cake that combines two healthy ingredients in a treat.
The cake’s texture results from preparing the carrots for the cake batter — it’s blended, not grated.
Italian orange and carrot cake is light enough for breakfast, so you can serve it with coffee or tea and get another serving for a snack!
Torta Caprese (Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake)
I had no idea this is what they called ‘flourless cake‘ until I tried it.
Originally from the island of Capri, ground almonds are the main ingredient for this classic Italian cake.
Depending on your mood, you can add some liquor or stick to a regular almond extract when making torta caprese — the result will always be delightful.
Pasticciotti (Italian Cream Filled Pastries)
One that never fails to impress friends, this Italian pastry is a traditional snack (or breakfast) from Lecce.
Pasticciotti are small pies, made from pasta frolla, with creamy, delicious custard inside — give it a try, and I dare you to stop after one bite. 🙂
It does not matter if you’re not using Sicilian pistachio for this frozen treat; the result will always be a satisfying and delicious serving of pistachio semifreddo.
Top with more chopped pistachios, you can serve it as is, or drizzle some melted chocolate for added drama.
Every city in Sicily has its way of making almond granita.
I managed to decide which one is my favorite and like me, you should not have any problem preparing it at home.
It’s a hassle-free summer dessert that will surely be one of your favorites.
You can either enjoy almond granita on its own or pair it with the next one on the list for a complete Sicilian experience.
Slightly different than the French version, this traditional Sicilian brioche is less buttery and goes perfectly with almond granita.
Sometimes, you would see South Italians using this brioche col tuppo as a bun, with their favorite ice cream flavor as the filling.
If you cannot imagine it, then take my word for it; you just have to try it and experience it yourself.
Gelo di Anguria (Sicilian Watermelon Jelly)
Another summer refreshment from Sicily.
If you’ve got great watermelon during their season, you better make sure you try preparing gelo di melone.
Adjust the amount of sugar accordingly, depending on how sweet your watermelon is — kids would surely love this too!
This treat is one of the common varieties of granita from Sicily.
Its coffee and granita rolled in one. Oh! And there is no milk in this one (at least the ones I’ve tried), just espresso, with crushed ice.
If you are a coffee-lover, skip the hot ones in the summer, and have coffee granita instead!
So, which one is your favorite among these traditional Italian desserts and pastries? Let me know in the comment section! 🙂
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