The Sweets of an Italian Christmas, Part One

Let me introduce you all to the most loved, traditional Italian sweets you eat for dessert on Christmas!

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The first is struffoli. True story: When I was a kid, my lovely godmother’s grandma always gave a nice big plate of struffoli to my mom. I never ate them because I was under the impression that those tiny, golden balls were chickpeas. I’m not sure if it was a ploy devised by my mom to deter my little hands from sneaking struffoli or what, but it worked. Had I know they were perfectly delicious deep fried circles of sweet dough covered in honey and sprinkles, things would have went down very differently. Well played, mother, well played.

It’s great fun to make them and go wild with the sprinkles. Since it takes about forever to cut up all those little struffs, it’s a nice way to catch up and chat with family and friends. Unfortunately, once you start eating struffoli, it is almost impossible to stop eating them.

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Next, we have the pastiera. Some consider this THE Easter dessert, but it makes it way onto the Christmas tables too. How happy were we to find a homemade pastiera for dessert! It’s a bit of an interesting creation: cooked grains of wheat are mixed with an orange flower-scented ricotta-based filling studded with candied fruits. BAM! If you ever find yourself in Naples, this is a definite must try because it is just delicious! Luckily enough, pastiera can be easily found year-round here.

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And finally, we have the raffiolo! This is a special dessert from the Campania region that only comes out during the Christmas season. Basically, it is a small circle of cake topped with sheep’s milk ricotta and covered in either chocolate or a sugar coating. If you’re lucky enough to be here during the end of the year, don’t leave Naples without trying one!

That’s not all! Oh no no no…we still have lots more of traditional desserts, but I will write about them in another post, and for a good reason!

Check back soon to find out why!

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