10 Italian Desserts You Need To Try

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This Italian dessert that literally translates to "lift me up" is a rich coffee flavored dessert that melts in your mouth.

The recipe has seen many adaptations over the years but basically the dessert is composed of coffee soaked and liquor dipped ladyfingers layered with a whipped pudding made of sugar, egg yolks and mascarpone cheese.  To finish the dish off, it's topped with shaved chocolate or cocoa powder.

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Panna Cotta

This silky smooth red fruit dessert that translates to "cooked cream" has a consistency like that of custard.

Ingredients used in Panna Cotta include vanilla, cream, sugar and the thickening agent Gelatin to help the dessert set.

Traditionally hailing from the northern Italian region of Piedmont, you'll find Panna Cotta is many restaurants and dessert shops across Italy.

Tartufo

Tartufo is an ice cream dessert that dates as far back as the 1940s originally from Pizzo, Calabria.  The dessert is made up of two flavors of ice cream that are molded by hand around frozen fruit or jam giving it a nice fruity center.  Popular fruits used in Tartufo include cherry, strawberry and raspberry.

The ice cream ball is then covered in a shell of either cocoa powder, lukewarm chocolate and cinnamon, nuts, or cookie crumbs.

Zabaione

Not quite a custard and more like a sauce used to fill tarts and pies, Zabaione is made from egg yolks, Marsala wine and Caster sugar.  Child friendly versions can also be made without the alcohol.

Zabaione can be served as a sauce or slightly chilled but usually comes served warm with biscuits.

Cassata

When Italians hear Cassata Siciliana, they know it's time for that ricotta Easter special.  This cake is a sweet beautiful sponge cake from Sicily with many colorful variations.

The Cassata is traditionally prepared in a wide circular pan with sloping sides.  The cake is soaked in liqueur or fruit juices and layered with sweetened ricotta cheese and candied or dried fruit.

Other variations turn the Cassata into an ice cream cake by substituting the ricotta layers with gelato.
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Torta Mimosa

Torta Mimosa is an elegant sponge cake of sweet citrus liqueur, sugar and chilled pastry cream.

The name Torta Mimosa refers to the fact that the dessert actually looks like a bouquet of Mimosa flowers that men give to their women in honour of Festa della donna or International Women's Day.

Gelato

Creamy and delicious, Gelato is more than just your average ice cream as it has intense flavors and an extra rich consistency.

Gelato is a more dense version of ice cream because it contains a greater whole milk to cream proportion and is churned at a much slower speed than its American counterpart.

Classic Gelato flavors include hazelnut, vanilla, chocolate or the special stracciatella which is crunchy chocolate pieces mixed with vanilla.

Cannoli

Cannoli is an experience you will always remember in vivid detail.  This treat is a tube shaped dough that is fried and brimming from the center with a creamy filling.

As with many other Italian desserts, there are countless variations of this favorite Italian treat.

The classic Cannoli Siciliana is a tubular pastry shell that has been fried and then filled with whipped ricotta.  Other fillings might make their way inside the cannoli like nuts, cookie crumbs and citron.

Zeppole

Another Italian pastry dessert that comes from the south of Rome is the Zeppole.  These Italian fritters look like doughnuts that are not stuffed but rather twisted into a coil and then topped with your choice of deliciousness.

The Zeppole dough ball is deep fried and could be fluffy or light with varying sizes.  A classic Zeppole is topped with pastry cream but some other toppings you'll find are a mixture of honey and butter, any delicious custard, and chocolate chips.

Sorbetto

While alot of people think of Sorbetto as ice cream of Gelato, they'd be wrong.  This delicious treat is a dairy and egg free version of those classics and a little bit denser.

Although the process of churning is quite similar, Sorbetto is made from sweetened water that can be flavored with a variety of different fruits.
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