We are diverging a bit from the norm and are going to dedicate this entire blog to Florence Desserts. Usually in our One Bite at a Time series we talk about regional food culture and include a variety of types of foods, but the desserts in Florence, Italy are so fabulous they deserve their own page!
Biscotti is a dense cake, of sorts, that is baked in a long flat loaf. When it is taken from the oven it is sliced and then the pieces are put back into the oven to be baked a second time to make them biscotti, literally meaning “twice cooked.”
Traditionally, biscotti is made with almonds and almond extract and are quite hard and dry if eaten alone. That is why they MUST be served with Vin Santo, a dessert wine. Ask any Italian and they will tell you biscotti is served with Vin Santo, NOT coffee!
No Italian meal is complete without a finish of Biscotti with vin santo.
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (Florentine Orange Cake)
This is a sweet flatbread made during Carnival time. It consists of lard, sugar, vanilla, yeast, flour, and both orange zest and juice. To be authentic one would use bergamot oranges and bake the cake in a rectangular pan. As the story goes, this cake became popular because the nuns of Santa Verdiana in Florence, would serve food to detainees in rectangular baking trays. Once it is baked and cooled it dusted with powdered sugar. Sometimes a creative stencil is used to produce a festive design.
Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert made from fruits and nuts, and resembles fruitcake. It may date back to 13th century Siena, in Italy’s Tuscany region and is very popular in Florence. Literally, panforte means “strong bread” which refers to the spicy flavor.
Like biscotti, it is often served with vin santo (dessert wine), but it is not taboo to eat with coffee either. It is often enjoyed as a breakfast treat as well.
You can’t talk about Italian desserts without Gelato being mentioned. Gelato is Italian ice cream and is popular all over the world. It is loved for its flavor and creamy smooth quality. The base is made with whole milk, eggs and sugar and additions of fruit, chocolate, nuts or coffee is added to make different flavors. Try as many flavors as you can while you are in Florence, because nothing tastes better than when it is made authentically from real Italians in Italy!!
One more thing….
While you are off visiting foreign cities and trying delicious desserts, we hope you are being careful. But accidents do happen and if you get hurt or sick you will want to get back home. Do you have a plan to afford medical transport home if you need it?