Picture yourself strolling down the cobbled streets of an enchanting Italian village, the aroma of freshly baked pastries, and the sweet melodies of gelato vendors wafting through the air. Italy is renowned for its rich culinary heritage, and when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, this Mediterranean gem doesn't disappoint. Join me in this delectable Italian Dessert Recipe Roundup where we’ll embark on a mouthwatering journey through the world of Italian desserts.
From the iconic tiramisu that transports your taste buds to the bustling cafes of Rome to the dreamy cannoli that whispers tales of Sicilian grandeur, Italian desserts are a celebration of centuries-old traditions, flavors, and artistry. Prepare to be charmed by the simplicity of ingredients that magically come together to create masterpieces, the enchanting stories behind each dessert, and the delightful variations that showcase the diversity of Italy's regions.
We absolutely have to start with tiramisu. It’s classic, traditional, and very Italian. This classic dessert is often served at weddings. You get a kick of coffee alongside sweet mascarpone cream as well as a bit of chocolate. It’s just right when it’s firm enough to stand on its own but soft enough to be eaten with a spoon.
Zuccotto is a creamy Italian dessert cake in the shape of a dome. It comes from the Italian word for pumpkin, lending to its finished shape. You need Italian pastry cream and a sponge cake for the main ingredients, both of which can easily be made right at home. A bit of liquor, coffee, and chocolate lend more flavor.
You will find this classic custard on most Italian dessert menus. It’s impressive without needing a lot of effort. Zabaglione is a sweet custard usually served with fresh fruit but can be served with pastries as well. You need just three ingredients: egg yolks, sugar, and a dessert wine.
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up in sweet treat form, this Italian affogato is for you. Sweet creamy gelato is paired with a shot of espresso (poured right over the gelato!) The result is the perfect combination of hot and cold, sweet and bitter, comforting and caffeinating. You can even add liquor to your espresso for an extra kick.
You’ve just finished a hearty Italian dinner, and you want something light but sweet to end the night with? This Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake is a perfect dessert. The ricotta in the cake keeps it most, but light and fluffy. Lemon flavoring lends a sweet, tangy flavor that will please any palate.
During the spring or summer, give this limoncello tiramisu a try. The coffee-chocolate combination is swapped for limoncello syrup and fresh bright lemons. A lemon curd is also added to the dessert, keeping it creamy and soft just like we want in a tiramisu. It’s a fantastic make-ahead dessert for bridal showers or weekend brunches because it stays good in the fridge for up to 4 days.
This Italian cake uses classic cannoli cream as the cake filling. It gives just the right amount of creaminess, sweetness, with just a hint of lemon. When paired with a simple yellow cake, the cannoli cream becomes the star of the show. The cake is so moist and fluffy, it’ll be a potluck hit!
Italian cream puffs are a delicious, easy, and impressive dessert recipe that is made from baked choux pastry and filled with Italian pastry cream. These make a fantastic brunch dessert as well as an afternoon tea-time treat. Just a bit or two is all you need sometimes to fill that sweet tooth craving, and these are sure to do the trick.
We already know lemon and ricotta go well together in cake form, but it works just as well in pie form. Similar to a cheesecake in texture and form, Italian lemon ricotta pie has a delicious lemon flavor all throughout without it being overpowering. Unlike cheesecake, this ricotta pie doesn’t need a crust. It’s firm enough on its own.
10. Easy Cannoli Pie
Here's another fun cannoli recipe to add to the list. It's a lot easier to make than homemade deep-fried cannoli shells. It’s perfect if you need to whip something up in a jiffy - you can have it prepped in about 30 minutes, and let the fridge to the overnight work. The secret to this crust is waffle cones which give it that true cannoli taste.
In case you do want to make authentic cannolis, here’s an easy recipe to follow. With store-bought cannoli shells saving you a lot of time, you can have a batch of these done in 20 minutes. Not bad for how authentic these cannolis taste. These are amazing and creamy, unforgettable Italian restaurant-quality cannolis right at home!
Italian Butter Cookies are soft, flavorful, and full of rich, buttery goodness. When made correctly, these are not the dry crumbly cookies you get from the store. They are light and so flavorful that they just melt in your mouth. A large platter of Italian butter cookies is a must at any holiday party.
Another delicious Italian cookie is a pizzicati. It’s delicate, buttery, and is filled with sweet jam. Due to the cookie dough being close to shortbread, this cookie isn’t overly sweet. There’s only ½ cup of sugar in the whole recipe, which is why they are so delicate and buttery. This allows the jam to shine through.
14. Amaretto Cookies
Amaretto cookies (or almond cookies) can be made from start to finish in just 30 minutes. They’re perfect for whipping up a batch for unexpected guests, or if you forgot a dessert for a bake sale. Amaretto cookies are soft and moist on the inside with a slightly crisp exterior.
Not only is a Bomboloni a delicious Italian doughnut, but it’s one that has been rolled in granulated sugar and filled with sweet pastry cream. As long as you have the patience to let them rise, you can make these easily right at home. Bomboloni is a fun way to enjoy an Italian dessert for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.
Traditionally served around Christmas, Panettone is a tall sweet bread/cake filled with raisins and candied fruit. Due to the candied fruit being sweet, panettone doesn’t call for a lot of sugar itself. It’s more of a sweet bread flavor and texture than a cake. The Italian word “panetto” means small loaf cake, so you can see where it got its name.
Stracciatella gelato is a personal favorite. I used to work in a gelato shop that served traditional Italian gelato and stracciatella was easily the most popular flavor. Gelato is ultra creamy, and the stracciatella flavor is made using sheets of chocolate layered within the vanilla gelato. The key to good gelato is top quality ingredients, so don’t skimp!
18. Torte Caprese
Torte Caprese, or Italian Chocolate Almond Cake is absolutely delectable. This particular recipe makes a great dinner party dessert. Flavorful enough to wow your guests, but easy enough to make that you won’t be too stressed. It’s a flourless chocolate cake so that chocolate is the star of the show - along with a bit of Strega or rum.
Another traditional Christmas dessert, Struffoli is not to be confused with stromboli. Stuffoli is little balls of fried dough that are dipped in a sticky sweet honey syrup that are then decorated with rainbow sprinkles. Sounds festive, right?! Not only are the sprinkles festive, but they add in a satisfying, and much needed, crunch to the soft dough balls.
Ice cream’s Italian cousin - semifreddo - is an amazing summer dessert that is a mix between gelato, cake, and mousse. When made correctly, it’s delightfully refreshing. You can use your favorite flavor profile, but some popular ones to try are chocolate hazelnut, citrus (especially in the spring!), and amaretto. It’s made a day in advance, so it’s great for parties.
Sfogliatella is sheets of puff pastry rolled extra thin, then filled with a ricotta cheese filling. They can be a hassle to make, especially from scratch, so this recipe features a fun, easy way to get the same type of pastry. Different fillings are also used to help spruce up the flavors.
No, not the Starbucks drink. Frappe are Italian bowtie cookies and they are absolutely adorable. A sweetened dough is deep-fried and then dusted with powdered sugar. Fun fact: these deep-fried cookies have over 10 different names. It just depends on what region in Italy you are in. No matter what you call them, they are a buttery, sugary delicious treat.
Pizzelle cookies are traditional Italian cookies made from flour, eggs, butter, sugar and flavoring. They can be soft and chewy or hard and crisp depending on the preparation. One thing they are consistent with - the beautiful designs. These cookies are simple but made to impress with the pretty, intricate detailing. They can be hard to master at first but keep trying. Practice makes perfect Pizzelle!
Panforte is another holiday dessert that is filled with nuts and fruit. Literally packed full of nuts and fruit! It also features a delicious honey syrup that keeps things sweet, and the powdered sugar gives it the holiday look. To keep it classic, use plenty of hazelnuts and roasted almonds.
You need just five ingredients and about 10 minutes to make this classic Italian dessert. Panna Cotta - cooked cream - has a dairy base that has been sweetened and thickened. It’s creamy and smooth, and one of the most refreshing no-bake desserts, especially when topped with a bit of fresh fruit.
Whether you're a passionate home baker looking to recreate these classics or simply an avid dessert enthusiast eager to savor the best Italy has to offer, this collection has something for everyone. So, grab your apron and your appetite, because we're about to embark on a sweet journey that will leave you craving dolce delights like never before. Buon appetito!
And I'll leave you with one of my favorite dessert recipes--check out this lemon blueberry cannolis!
25 Delectable Italian Desserts
- Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl mix your ricotta, cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice and zest and vanilla together, beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until smooth.
- Gently fold in your blueberries, store mixture in fridge
- Cut your fold it breads in half so you have 2 round pieces. Use tooth picks and form them into shells. Brush egg whites onto bread and bake in oven for approx 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes, then very gently remove toothpicks from bread, they should hold there shape.
- Pipe your cheese mixture into your cannoli shells, you can use a small ziplock and cut of a tip big enough for blueberries to fit through and pipe into each end so the whole shell is filled. Store in fridge.
- Makes 4 cannoli's at 5 smart points each (3 points plus)
- Nutritional info per cannoli (not incl blueberries) Calories 126...Fat 5.3g...Sat fat 2.7g...Carbs 15g...Fiber 3.5g...Sugar 7.6g..Protein 7.6g