In Italy, Christmas festivities last for about a month, starting on December 8th—the day of the Immacolata—and lasting until the Epiphany on January 6, which celebrates the visit of the Magi. So like those wise men, you’ll want to bear precious gifts, from traditional holiday cakes hailing from Verona, Tuscany, and Milan, to amaretti cookies that Babbo Natale will swoon over.
Mini Panettone: Originally invented in Milan, this towering, fluffy-crumbed, not-too-sweet bread is dotted with raisins and candied citrus zest and traditionally enjoyed during Christmas. We love that Antica Pasticceria Di Perugia—a long-running Italian bakery—makes this mini version. Sliced into wedges and enjoyed with sweet hot beverages or wine, it’s a panettone perfect for smaller celebrations.
Mini Pandora: Verona has their own specialty when it comes to traditional Christmas cakes. Similar to the panettone, pandoro gets its tall and airy structure from yeast, and isn’t too sweet. But this version from Piselli—Italy’s primary pandoro producer—is shaped like a star, and especially celebratory. That’s because it’s accented with cream brightened by Sicilian lemons, and comes showered with flakes of snowy white chocolate.
Amaretti: Legend has it that when a bishop visited Saronno (located in Lombardy, Italy) on a surprise visit, a couple created these almond-accented cookies in his honor. Similar to a macaron, they have a crackly crisp exterior that houses a pillowy center within. And they impressed the bishop so much that he granted the couple his blessing for a long and happy marriage. This also ensured the lucky recipe would be passed down through generations, and they’ve crisscrossed the world thanks to Lazzaroni, who’s produced amaretti since 1888.
Panforte: Translated to “strong bread” in Italian, panforte is Tuscany’s go-to Christmas cake. It gets its powerful punch from spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper, and its festive flair from candied and dried fruit and nuts. And Panforte Nero from Pasticcerie Sinatti—which specializes in traditional peasant confections from Siena—does the original one better, with a dramatic dusting of bittersweet cocoa powder.
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