Scrumptious Italian Desserts

From creamy gelato to richly delicious cakes, Italy produces some of the world's most beloved desserts. Crafted with simple but decadent ingredients, these treats are truly irresistible.

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Cherry Cassata Torte

    This variation of cassata, a traditional Italian dessert often served at weddings, offers a heavenly cherry brandy-spiked ricotta and cream cheese filling flecked with almonds and dried cherries.

Makes: 12 servings
Prep   45 mins 
Chill   6 mins 
Cool  1 hr 30 mins 
Ricotta Mousse with Berries

    Creamy ricotta cheese flavored with orange peel and orange liqueur is the perfect flavor contrast to a tart but sweet berry mixture.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep   15 mins 
Chill  1 hr  to 24 hrs 
Stand   15 mins 
Apricot Cream Cake with Chocolate-Mascarpone Frosting

    Mascarpone cheese -- Italy's super decadent version of cream cheese -- adds richness to this layer cake's luscious chocolate frosting.

Makes: 12 servings
Prep   50 mins 
Cool   10 mins 
Bake   25 mins  to  30 mins  350°F 
Merry Mocha Pound Cake

    Fluffy coffee-flavor cream is alternated with layers of ultrarich cake to create the ultimate mocha dessert.

Makes: 10 servings
Prep   25 mins 
Cool   10 mins 
Bake  1 hr 15 mins  to 1 hr 20 mins  325°F 
Strawberry Granita

    Granitas are intensely fruit-flavored ices that are popular in Southern Italy. This one is zippy, light, and refreshing.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep   20 mins 
Freeze  6 hrs 
Sweet Ricotta with Amaretti and Fresh Plum Sauce

    Macaroons flavored with sweet almonds are known in Italy as amaretti cookies. They make a delightful topper for this creamy fruit dessert.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep   30 mins 
Chill  4 hrs  to 24 hrs 
Polenta-Topped Cherry Cobbler

    Polenta, Italy's famous cornmeal mush, makes a divine topping for this sweet yet tart cherry cobbler.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep   20 mins 
Bake   25 mins  375°F 
Mocha Lava Baby Cakes

    This rich and chocolaty dessert looks complicated -- but it's so simple to make. Prep takes just 15 minutes.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep   15 mins 
Chill   45 mins 
Cool   2 mins 
Vanilla Pizzelles

    A sprinkling of powdered sugar adds extra sweetness to delicate pizzelles, the traditional Italian waffle cookies.

Makes: 24 servings
Serving size: About 24 cookies
Start to Finish  1 hr 
Sweet Vanilla-Polenta Pudding

    Tiny seeds from a vanilla bean give this dessert pudding its mouthwatering flavor. Rich mascarpone cheese topping adds decadence.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep   30 mins 
Stand   20 mins 
Almond Panna Cotta with Mocha Sauce

    An ultra-rich chocolate-espresso sauce adds pizazz to this pudding-like dessert.

Makes: 6 servings
Prep   25 mins 
Chill  6 hrs  to 24 hrs 
Lacy Florentines

    Sweet honey, spicy ginger, rich cream, and crisp almonds come together to make these delightful cookies.

Makes: 36 servings
Prep   40 mins 
Bake   8 mins  350°F 
Mocha Biscotti

    An espresso drizzle adds a hint of coffee flavor to these crisp cookies. Biscotti means "twice baked" in Italian.

Makes: 30 servings
Prep   30 mins 
Cool  1 hr 
Bake   35 mins 375/325 degrees F
Limoncello Semifreddo with Raspberry Sauce

    Like many semifreddos (which means "half cold" in Italian and refers to chilled desserts), this luscious version is composed of contrasting flavors and textures served in a loaflike shape.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep   40 mins 
Freeze  7 hrs 
Triple-Chocolate Gelato

    Gelato, Italy's smooth and rich frozen dessert, gets its smoothness from custard. This delectable variation is made with three kinds of chocolate -- dark, bittersweet, and white.

Makes: 24 servings
Serving size: 12 cups
Prep   30 mins 
Chill  6 hrs  to 24 hrs 
Cool   20 mins 
Genoise in Strawberry Vin Santo Sauce

    Genoise (zhen-WAHZ) is a rich, light-textured cake (similar to sponge cake) that originated in Genoa, Italy. Here, the cake is topped with a mouthwatering sauce that is spiked with Vin Santo, a rich, sweet Italian white wine.

Makes: 10 servings
Prep  1 hr 
Bake   22 mins  350°F 
Layered Chocolate-Zabaglione Cream Cakes

    Zabaglione (zah-bahl-YO-nay) -- a frothy Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar, and liqueur -- tops springy chocolate sponge cake.

Makes: 12 servings
Prep  1 hr 
Bake   18 mins  350°F 
Stand   30 mins 
Triple-Chocolate Tiramisu

    With three times the chocolate, our recipe makes this traditional Italian dessert better than ever. Chocolate-covered espresso beans make a tasty topper.

Makes: 12 servings
Serving size: 12 squares
Prep   30 mins 
Chill  6 hrs 

    With sweetened cheese, bittersweet chocolate, zippy orange peel, and rich pistachio nuts, this version of a quintessential Sicilian treat marries a melange of delicious flavors.

Makes: 12 servings
Prep   25 mins 
Chill  8 hrs 
Stand   45 mins 
Raspberry-Almond Meringues

    These melt-in-your-mouth raspberry and almond meringues are a lovely way to end a hearty meal on a sweet note.

Serving size: about 40 cookies
Prep   45 mins 
Bake   20 mins  300°F 
Stand  1 hr 30 mins 
Hazelnut Cream Cassata

    This filled dessert uses purchased cake mix, making it simple to prepare. Raspberry jam provides an enjoyable flavor contrast to the chocolate and hazelnut spread.

Makes: 12 servings
Prep   30 mins 
Chill  Up to  24 hrs 
Bake   15 mins  350°F 
Little Hazelnut-Chocolate Cookies Sandwiches

    In the Piedmont region of Italy, the duo of chocolate and hazelnuts flavors all kinds of desserts. Serve these sweet little cookie sandwiches with after-dinner espresso.

Serving size: about 4 dozen sandwich cookies
Prep  1 hr 
Bake   6 mins  350°F 
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