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Italian Culinary Traditions: Desserts

Mention Italian food and most people think of pasta or pizza. How often do Italian desserts come to mind? When you study culinary arts, however, you explore all the culinary traditions of a culture's food.

Discover Italian Desserts at Culinary School

Pasta and pizza aside, the Italians have numerous classic desserts that are part of the traditional Italian meal. Chefs in a culinary arts program will learn about each of the different courses served and the delicious recipes that are the pride of Italy. Italian food is classified into regional styles, and desserts are no different. While studying the culinary arts, chefs will become acquainted with some of the following favorites:

  • Panettone is a traditional Christmas cake and is a very light mixture of flour, yeast, milk, butter, eggs, sugar, candied fruits, and raisins. This dome-shaped cake originated in Milan around the late 1400s from a chef named Toni ("pan de Toni"), who created the cake to impress the father of his love interest.
  • Biscotti are Italian cookies from the Tuscany region. Chefs make biscotti, which means "twice baked," by forming a log, baking it, slicing it diagonally, and baking the slices again for crispness. Traditional biscotti were almond flavored, but other ingredients characterize these internationally popular cookies today.
  • Cannoli, which originated in Sicily, is a culinary tradition dating back a couple of thousand years and is a favorite during the Italian Carnival season. Cannolis are tube-shaped, fried wafers that are filled with sweet ricotta cheese, candied fruit, and chocolate pieces.


These three desserts are only a few of the delicacies in Italy's culinary heritage. Studying Italian food, or the food of any other region, educates aspiring chefs about the depth and variety of global cuisine.

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