December 12, 2018

Usher in the holiday season with Italian-inspired Christmas pastries

While any time is a great time for pastries, the holiday season offers an especially high number of opportunities to bake many different types and sell them to customers or share them with friends and family. With a variety of events large and small that call for festivities and foods that will match the joyful mood, professional bakers and online pastry arts students alike will have plenty of opportunities to bake. Let’s look at some Italian-inspired holiday pastries that can please a wide range of palates throughout this especially festive time.

Struffoli with sprinkles in a glass dish.There are plenty of Italian pastries that can please customers, family and friends alike this holiday season.

Struffoli offers a delicious treat for groups of all sizes

Struffoli are a Neapolitan dish that’s easily shared and enjoyed at all types of gatherings. Perhaps most similar on the surface and in basic preparation to donut holes, struffoli are smaller, more flavorful and incorporate additional ingredients in both preparation and presentation. Beyond the finished products themselves, which offer a balance between crunch and a soft, yielding interior, struffoli also feature orange and lemon zest as well as lemon, anise or orange liqueur in the dough recipe.

Decorations can include nonpareil sprinkles, rainbow sprinkles, candied fruit, powdered sugar and many similar accouterments mixed into a honey-sugar glaze that binds the small pieces together. Many chefs will choose a seasonally relevant shape, like a cone evoking a tree or a circle evoking a wreath, and then decorate to emphasize the resemblance.

Food blog SugarLovesSpices shared a versatile recipe for struffoli that allows you to personalize the dish with your own shape and decorations. This can easily be offered as a pre-ordered item in bakeries with some level of customer-led customization – such as shape and type of additions beyond the fried dough and glaze – as well as offered as a group dessert in restaurants. Of course, you can also prepare it to serve at your own gatherings of family and friends throughout the seasons.

Parrozzo features an abundance of flavors

Hailing from Abruzzo, a region of Southern Italy, parrozzo is a new recipe by the standards of a country that has crafted sweets and desserts for thousands of years. This cake combines a thick dark chocolate coating with almond and citrus notes contained inside the semolina-based batter that emphasizes an eggy pastry flavor. As Food & Wine pointed out, parrozzo was created with the idea of mimicking the appearance of a traditional cornbread made by Abruzzans, although with a far different flavor. The result was the parrozzo, which quickly spread throughout the region, the country and far beyond.

Australian magazine Gourmet Traveler shared a parrozzo recipe that takes just 30 minutes to prepare and about an hour to bake and cool before it can be served. You may want to tack on a few minutes to convert from metric to imperial if you’re not familiar with baking using grams as the basic unit of measure, but this is still a quickly- and easily-prepared dish.

Zelten provides a traditional yet festive touch

Zelten is a whole-wheat cake that features dried fruits and nuts, as Food & Wine pointed out, to enhance flavor and provide some additional texture and adornment. This cake, hailing from the Trentino and Alto Adige, also often includes rum, brandy or other spirits for additional taste and to contribute to the cake’s festive nature.

Food and travel blog My Little Italian Kitchen offered a zelten recipe that starts with a scratch-made dough and includes a boozy touch of rum or brandy – your choice. Consider using a shaped holiday pan, like a Christmas tree or any number of other options, to further evoke the holiday season when serving to customers or guests.