16 Bellissimi Italian Desserts

From a sophisticated, orange-infused olive oil cake to a scoop of creamy-cold gelato, the desserts of Italy are worth a second look. Sweet but not too sweet, they're the perfect end to an authentic Italian meal — but they're also perfect as a midday snack, paired with a strong cup of coffee or a nip of crisp white wine.

Olive Oil Gelato
Olive Oil Gelato
Smooth, grassy, and slightly savory, this rich olive oil gelato makes for an elegant dessert—we love it topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.Helen Rosner
Vanilla-Rum Custard (La Tart)
Vanilla-Rum Custard (La Tarte)
The creaminess of this classic vanilla custard gains an edge with the addition of light rum.Penny De Los Santos
Rainbow Cookies
Almond pastry filling in place of the almond paste typically used to make these cookies results in a lighter, moister cookie.Todd Coleman
Pistachio Gelato
This delectable Italian specialty is cool, creamy, lightly nutty, and especially delicious when paired with our Chocolate Gelato.Christopher Hirsheimer
Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli)
Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli)
These chewy almond meringue cookies, speckled with pine nuts, are a favorite holiday cookie of former SAVEUR managing editor Greg Ferro. This recipe is based off one by cookbook author Nick Malgieri.Todd Coleman
St. Joseph's Day Fritters
St. Joseph's Day Fritters
These crunchy Sicilian fritters are topped with a cinnamon-ricotta filling.Todd Coleman
Amaretti Peach Tart (Crostata di Pesche Cotte e Amaretti)
Amaretti Peach Tart (Crostata di Pesche Cotte e Amaretti)
Soft, very ripe peaches work best in the filling for this summery tart from Piedmont home cook Maddalena Bellorini.Landon Nordeman
Budi de pan
Budi de Pan (Neapolitan Bread Pudding)
After flan, bread pudding is perhaps the most popular dessert in Argentina, often enjoyed alongside a cup of coffee. This Italian-inspired version, which first appeared in the iPad edition of our October 2013 issue, is on the lighter side, with fresh hints of citrus.Landon Nordeman
Muscat-Spiked Zabaglione
In Italian, sbaglione means big mistake. This popular dessert may have been "mistakenly" invented, probably in Florence—though it is usually made with marsala, the famous sweet wine of Sicily.Christopher Hirsheimer
Lemon Granita
Lemon Granita
Like a frozen lemonade, this refreshing dessert is achieved with little more than lemon juice, sugar, and time.Matt Taylor-Gross
Chocolate Almond Cookies (Strazzate)
Chocolate Almond Cookies (Strazzate)
Featured in our book Best Cookies, these traditional crumbly cookies from the Basilicata region of Italy are flavored with Strega, an Italian herbal liqueur, but Galliano, which can be found in most liquor stores, is a fine substitute.Helen Rosner
Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake
Orange-Scented Olive Oil Cake
A heady mixture of olive oil and preserved oranges flavors this moist, dense Sicilian dessert.André Baranowski
Torta di Sant'Antonio (Sant'Antonio Apple Tart)
Cooks in the Italian Alpine village of Oulx flavor this tart with red wine and cinnamon to honor the town's patron saint, Sant'Antonio. Get the recipe for Torta di Sant'Antonio (Sant'Antonio Apple Tart) »Todd Coleman
Tozzetti (Anise, Almond, and Hazelnut Biscotti)
Tozzetti (Anise, Almond, and Hazelnut Biscotti)
These Roman-style biscotti are a favorite of Nick Malgieri's for their distinctive anise flavor and atypical baking method: the loose batter is poured onto a baking sheet and baked like a cake. The result is light biscotti with large chunks of almonds and hazelnuts.Todd Coleman
cannoli recipe
Sicilian Cannoli **
Ricotta impastata, a smoother and drier version of ricotta, is typically used for filling Sicilian cannoli. This recipe comes from cookbook author Nick Malgieri.Landon Nordeman
Sicilian Cassata Cake recipe
Sicilian Cassata Cake
Fabrizia Lanza taught us to make this classic Sicilian cake, rimmed in pistachio marzipan.Landon Nordeman