Living La Dolce Vita: Experiencing Italian Desserts

By: Benedict Yossarian

With its decadent flavors and rich traditions, Italian food ranks as one of the finest in the world. On a global scale, only a handful of dishes could par with the standards set by Italians. What could rival the ubiquitous pizza, the savory pasta, and its famous espresso and cappuccino? Fact is, it is almost impossible not to have an Italian restaurant or an Italian specialty store within your place of work or in proximity from where you live. But when desserts and pastries come into play, Italians stood out and excelled; thus providing the rest of us with a chance to savor the sweet life.

So with your sweet tooth intact and your diet thrown out of the window, let us take a bite and experience la dolce vita.

Gelato

Can one imagine Italy without gelato? Gelato is a frozen dessert akin to an ice cream. And like most other Italian culinary works of art, the secret to perfect gelato comes from the quality of its ingredients. Though richer than the typical American ice cream, this fact really does not stop individuals from taking a taste of the sinfully decadent frozen treat. When in Italy, you will find a plethora of flavors ranging from your typical chocolate and vanilla to the not so typical rose and basil flavored gelato. It may be awkward to the auditory nerves but not to the taste buds.

Tiramisu

If you have a sweet tooth, have a taste for coffee, and is not into dieting, then tiramisu is the ideal dessert for you. Tiramisu is a layered dessert alternating a coffee-soaked sponge cake and cream topped with chocolate shavings or (more) cream. Traditionally, Italians use lady-fingers (biscuits shaped like, well, fingers). These biscuits are soaked in coffee and layered with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, custard, and whipped cream. (Talk about rich dessert!)

Biscotti

This is probably the most famous Italian cookie, not just in its hometown but as well as into numerous kitchens around the world. This crunchy cookie is good for a midday snack or midnight nibble. There are a variety of elements that goes into one of these tasty treats, and this too evolved and changed; adding in new ingredients and making it soft and chewy---adjusting everything to suit one's palate. Though the basic dough may include almonds, chocolate chips, candied fruits or flavored with lemon, cocoa, or even coffee.

Panettone

This is sweet bread traditionally eaten during the advent season. This particular bread originated in Milan most likely in the fifteenth century and has been a traditional treat ever since. The dough may contain raisins and other candied fruits, and finished by dusting confectioner sugar over the top. With its recognizable dome shape and delightful taste, munching on one would easily satisfy your sweet tooth during the Christmas season.

Torrone

Another advent staple is the torrone. Though you need not wait for Christmas to get a taste of its almond nougat goodness (it is available all year round). This candy may be made using variety nuts (usually almond) and candied fruits. Also, it can be flavored with chocolate, vanilla or pistachio. This is sweet, and that is still an understatement. You may want to schedule a trip to the dentist after filling yourself with this yummy treat.

These are a few of the sweet treats that Italy has presented to the world. Choosing just one will prove to be a tough decision. But with your sweet tooth, you simply need to let your senses guide you. If you follow your senses, it will surely lead you to la dolce vita.

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