Bologna, like many Italian cities, has got a rich and varied culinary heritage and many traditional dishes. Many of you might know the city’s famous savoury dishes. But, the Italian desserts from Bologna are just as delicious.
I grew up near this beautiful city. Many of these flavours you will be able to find within the spun-sugar shells of your Lavolio confectionery! Here is a selection of five Italian desserts from Bologna. They are handmade to this day and can be found all across the city’s artisan boutiques.
Torta di Riso: a sweet rice cake
Torta di Riso is acake of rice born in the city with the name Torta degli Addobbi (Cake of Decorations), which today is a national dessert! Upon its creation, it was the typical handmade dessert for the religious festivities of Corpus Domini. In occasion of the famous parade, coloured drapes hung along the streets of Bologna, as decorations. Hence the name of the cake. As legend has it, it dates back to the XVII century. The original recipe calls for sugar, rice, candied cedar, almonds, lemon and maraschino liqueur, or sometimes alchermes. Sounds a lot like Fruit Garden confectionery, doesn’t it?
Pan Speziale: a sweet bread
Pan Speziale (also known as "apothecary bread", because of its rich use of spices) is another sweet dish from Bologna which has a great tradition. Locally it is best known with the name Certosino because the monk-bakers of the Certosa di Bologna, the city’s Carthusian monastery, already prepared during the Middle Ages.
Among the ingredients feature candied fruits, sugar and honey, flour, raisins, almonds, pine nuts, chocolate, cinnamon, aniseed and cloves. Again, another dessert which shares a lot of the delicious flavours found inside your Lavolio gift boxes. The honey, cinnamon and aniseed of Decadent Spiced, the candied fruits of Fruit Garden, the almonds and chocolate.
This Italian dessert has a very rich and long history and has been proudly featured on the festive tables of the citizens of Bologna for many centuries.
Pinza bolognese: pastry filled with jam
Speaking of sweets typical of the festive season, it would be impossible not to mention the Pinza bolognese. Not to be confused with the dessert of the same name from Veneto. Pastry dough encases a filling of mustard. Not the spicy, savoury condiment destined for hamburgers, but a thick, tart jam made of oranges, quinces, pear quinces and sugar.
It’s a rustic dessert but it goes brilliantly with wine, coffee and tea -just like your Lavolio chocolates. And, while mostarda bolognese is particularly difficult to find outside of Bologna, a tart plum jam in this would also be delicious. The official recipe appeared for the first time in 1644 and calls for almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, dried figs, cocoa and rum.
Sweet mustard again: Raviole di San Giuseppe
We find mostarda again in another sweet dish typical of the region of Bologna, Raviole of San Giuseppe (don't confuse them with the pasta shape, ravioli!). They were born to celebrate St Joseph on the 19th of March. These small sweets are discs of dough of about 10 cm, with a mustard filling. Their secret is their simplicity: unlike the pinza, they do not call for any other ingredients.
Dulcis in Fundo! Zuccherini montanari
Last but not least, the zuccherini montanari (literally translates as “little mountain sugars” -isn’t it just an adorable name??). These are famous crumbly biscuits which belong to the culinary tradition of Emilia Romagna’s mountains.
They were originally created to celebrate weddings and parties hosted on the hills of the Apennines, and according to tradition they have to be dunked in tea. The recipe requires a glaze, obtained through a traditional method, the slow boiling of sugar and aniseed, which is the source of their scrumptious and fragrant aroma.
What did you think of these delicious Italian desserts from Bologna? Had you heard of them before? They are lovely and a must-try if you are in Italy. In the meantime, you can treat yourself or a loved one with a wonderful box of handmade Lavolio sweets and chocolates.