Summertime calls for sunshine, family and fun. With the temperatures rising, it’s nice to take a break and relax in the shade with a cool treat. As kids, we often snacked on a variety of traditional Italian sweets that kept us cool and fueled our summer energy. To help beat the heat this summer, here are ten Italian sweets you need to try!
- Tiramisu: As a staple dessert in Italian culture, tiramisu is a favorite in both Italy and stateside. The refrigerated dessert is made with lady finger cookies dipped in espresso, which are layered between mascarpone cheese and mixed with whipped egg yolks and cream. Coffee is the traditional tiramisu flavor, but it can also be made without espresso and flavored with sweetened strawberries or lemon sauce.
- Sicilian Granita: Nothing cools you down faster on a hot day than a cold drink. In Italy, one of the Sicilian favorites is a cold dessert, similar to the American slushie or slurpie. Granita translates to “little grains,” referring to the treat’s icy texture, and it is believed to have originated during the Arab ruling, when locals mixed snow from Mount Etna with lemons. Today, the most common flavor is lemon, but granita is also served in chocolate, almond and many other flavors.
- Affogato: Affogato is the perfect Italian sweet for coffee-lovers on a hot day. The dessert consists of a scoop of vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso poured over it. There are other flavor options available, but they’re usually found outside of Italy. Don’t worry, if you’re not a huge coffee fan, you can always cool off with gelato sans espresso (learn more about gelato here!).
- Panna Cotta: This delicious Italian sweet translates to “cooked cream.” Originating in the Piedmont region of Italy, known for its dairy heritage, panna cotta is made from fresh, high-quality cream that is sweetened and held together with gelatin. It is usually served with a fresh fruit compote, caramel or a chocolate sauce.
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- Cannolis: If you’ve ever eaten at an Italian restaurant, chances are you’ve seen or tried a cannoli. Cannolis are fried pastry tubes filled with sweetened ricotta cheese, sometimes sprinkled with cinnamon, chocolate sauce or stuffed with candied fruit or pistachios. They can also be filled with a chocolate filling! Luckily, you can try our delicious mini cannolis if you’re craving a sweet treat!
- Spumoni: This classic Italian ice cream dessert originated in Naples. It is made with three different flavors of gelato molded together and frozen. Traditionally, cherry, pistachio and chocolate gelato are used, but some recipes swap out chocolate for vanilla. The middle layer, usually pistachio, often contains pieces of cherry or chopped nuts. However, be careful serving this dish. In Italy, spumoni is always sliced like cake rather than scooped like gelato. Check out a recipe here.
- Pignoli: This traditional Italian snack is a chewy almond cookie topped with pine nuts and powdered sugar. Pignoli translates to “pine nut,” which is why this dessert is often referred to as “pine nut cookie.” They are believed to have derived from Sicily in the 18th century, when they were made for royalty. Pignoli are a holiday favorite in Italian culture, and we love them so much, we serve them year round at all of our Mici locations!
- Florentine: Another traditional Italian dessert, florentine are crispy caramelized almond cookies with a chocolate center. They are also called lace cookies, and chocolate filling is usually put between the two cookies to make a cookie sandwich! As one of our favorite Italian sweets, we love serving florentines to you—our Mici family!RELATED: TRY OUT THESE MOUTH-WATERING ITALIAN CHEESES
- Pandoro: Literally meaning “golden bread,” Pandoro is a traditional Italian bread that originated in Verona and got is name from its golden yellow color. The dessert is baked in a unique star shape, similar to a bundt pan, and once it has cooled, it is topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. It can also be served with a mascarpone cream sauce, melted chocolate or flavored whipped cream. Learn how to whip one up here.
- Lemon Semifreddo: Semifreddo is a frozen Italian dessert with a soft, velvety texture, similar to a frozen mousse. Recipes vary, adding different fruit or nuts, but the primary ingredients are whipped cream, zabaglione and Swiss meringue (our mother’s favorite is lemon semifreddo). This dessert is unique because it doesn’t completely freeze like ice cream or gelato. Rather, it stays semifreddo, or “half cold,” because it contains more air and sugar than its ice cream and gelato counterparts.
Is your mouth watering for some Italian sweets yet? Order online or bring the family out for an Italian feast and try out our authentic, delicious Italian desserts today!