If you’re the type that looks forward all year long for the annual cookie exchange among friends and family, here’s the list of Christmas sweets in Rome for you.
When you think of Italian cuisine, sweet baked goodies might not be the first that come to mind. But the Eternal City has plenty of sweet offerings around Christmas time that are definitely worthy of taking place of your annual cookie festivities this year. Whether it’s a fluffy and buttery pandoro lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar, a hearty panettone chock full of candied fruits and raisins, or crunchy tozzetti to dunk in a steamy cup of coffee or tea, Rome’s spread of Christmas sweets are sure to deliver an authentic Italian Christmas experience.
*Due to the seasonality of these Christmas sweets, they make great gifts to bring back to family and friends from your vacation in Rome!
Spongey, light, and fluffy – Pandoro seems to make an appearance a bit earlier every year for how much it is loved. Traditionally this tall, star-shaped cake is finished with a light dusting of powdered sugar and then sliced length-wise for a considerable portion. Nowadays, many of pasticceri (pastry shops) offer variations of Pandoro, sliced and stacked with alternating layers of chantilly cream or even gelato. You’ll often find the pandoro packaged in a tall, elegant box with an easy-to-carry handle for bringing back home or to your next dinner party in the city.
Panettone is originally from Milan but has become an international sensation, breaking national boundaries and making it’s presence known all over the world. The fluffy bready base is less sweet than pandoro, after a curing process that takes several days. While modern panettone come in all varieties of flavors and fillings, traditionally the puffy bread is mixed with candied orange and citrus zest as well as raisins. It’s sometimes served with mascarpone cream or even gelato but most often enjoyed by itself.
Delicious torrone comes in two main varieties: hard and soft. The traditional nougat concoction is simply honey, sugar and egg whites mixed together, mixed with nuts to create a beautifully speckled bar. Today there are many varieties available, also in chocolate and gianduia (a mix of milk chocolate and hazelnut). Christmas tables all over Rome will see a beautiful plating of various flavors, cut into perfect little cubes for bite-size, chewy mouthfuls of delight.
4. Salame di Cioccolato
Literally translated to “Chocolate Salami”, it’s basically just that: a chocolate log, mixed with crunchy pieces of cookie mixed in to resemble the bits of fat in meat salami. The salami is purchased just as you would a meat salami, sliced and served. The combination of rich, moist chocolate with the crunchy bits of cookie is a perfect match, that makes the end to any meal celebratory.
Pangiallo Romano, or “Roman yellow bread”, is one of the most ancient and typical Roman Christmas sweets. A mixture of nuts, dried fruits and a sticky sugar syrup are mixed together to form a loaf. A thin egg pastry covers the nut and fruit mixture and it’s baked. The chewy, dense filling is earthy and sweet, with a variety of flavors available nowadays.
Most similar to the generic “biscotti” you’ll find everywhere in the States, Tozzetti are a hard, crunchy cookie made in a loaf and cut into strips. Traditionally Tozzetti are flavored with almonds, dried fruit, chocolate, or lemon, but nowadays there are plenty of other variations. The hard cookies can be enjoyed on their own right out of the package, or softened by dunking into a hot beverage like coffee or tea at the end of your meal. Tozzetti should not be confused with Cantucci, a Tuscan relative hard cookie that’s traditionally dunked in vin santo (sweet wine).
Are we missing one of your favorite Christmas sweets from Rome? Share it with us in the comments below!