Every region in Italy has their own unique dishes and flavours – and here are the 9 typical Tuscan sweets you can’t miss when you come to Florence!
Typical of the Pistoia area, the Brigidini di Lamporecchio are a kind of round wafer, about 7 cm in diameter, thin and rolled around the edges. It has a yellow-orange color and a very crumbly and crunchy texture. The flavor is shortcrust pastry and aniseed. It is packed in special, tall, narrow transparent bags, closed with a string.
Its production dates back to the Renaissance period, in fact legend has it that it was the nuns of a convent who invented the brigidino by mistake.
It all started with an error by Sister Brígida, who got confused while preparing the dough for the hosts. In order not to waste this compound, the sisters decided to refine it by adding fennel grains.
It’s a sweet typical of Tuscan markets and baked goods, there’s always a little stand with Brigidini and you won’t be able to miss it: the smell of the cookies is unmistakable!
Cantucci are the typical almond biscuits from Tuscany, made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and honey.
Also known as cantuccini, the name cantuccio first appeared in 1691 in the third edition of the dictionary of the Accademia della Crusca, which defined it as a ‘sliced biscuit, made of fine flour, with sugar and egg white’.
Today it is present at traditional Tuscan lunches and dinners, ending the meals accompanied by the also very traditional Vin Santo!
Castagnaccio is a typical Tuscan chestnut flour cake, typically eaten in autumn, which is the chestnut season in the region. It is usually served with ricotta cheese or chestnut honey, new wine, or sweet wines like Vin Santo.
There are several types of castagnaccio, but the most popular is a thin cake, called in Florence “migliaccio” and “ghirighio”.
Castagnaccio is a dish of peasant origin, where chestnuts were the basis of the population’s diet. After a period of oblivion, which started after the Second World War and due to the growing prosperity, it was rediscovered and today it is the protagonist of countless festivities and celebrations in the autumn period.
The origins of this sweet delicacy date back when the ancient Romans used to celebrate the Saturnalia, a festival very similar to the Carnival we know today. In that period, when the banquets and popular feasts were usual, the frictilia, sweet fried in pork fat, were very popular, distributed to the crowd in the streets of the city. The taste was so good that it has gone through centuries and is still a success today, a delicacy not to be missed in the Carnival celebrations.
If you haven’t a trip to Florence in program, you can prepare the cenci at home. You can find the recipe here.
5- Pan di ramerino
A sweet and soft bread, enriched with sultanas (zibibbo) and rosemary. This is the Pan di Ramerino, traditionally consumed mainly during the Easter period in Tuscany. But if you come to the region at another time of the year, don’t worry, the Pan di Ramerino is produced all year round.
It has a golden-brown color and a shiny surface because it is brushed with beaten egg before being baked. A curiosity: its processing has remained unchanged over time since its creation dating back to the Middle Ages.
Following the Tuscan tradition, we serve Pan di Ramenino for our breakfast on Maundy Thursday., we serve Pan di Ramenino for our breakfast on Maundy Thursday.
6- Ricciarelli di Siena
Little pieces of heaven that melt in your mouth and feed your soul. This is how we could describe the Riccarelli di Siena, a sweet from the Sienese tradition based on almonds.
The dough also takes sugar and egg whites and, after being baked in the oven, it is covered with icing sugar.
The origins of “Ricciarelli di Siena” are linked to those of Marzapani, a sweet made with almonds and sugar used in the production of soft cakes, whose spread in Siena dates to the 15th century. At that time, Marzapanetti also appeared, which were square biscuits made from Marzapani.
From 1800, the Marzapanetti changed shape, became small lozenges that received the name of Ricciarelli.
Ricciarelli di Siena are usually consumed at the end of a meal accompanied by tea, coffee, Vin Santo or Moscadello di Montalcino.
7- Schiacciata alla fiorentina
Think of a dessert that is the face of Florence! The Schiacciata alla Fiorentina is traditional from the Carnival period, a rectangular sweet, golden inside due to the presence of saffron in the dough, while the surface is white because it is sprinkled with icing sugar.
Usually, sugar is sprinkled over a mask that leaves the design of the Lily of Florence on the schiacciata.
Today, there are variations of the original recipe, with custard or chantilly fillings.
8- Schiacciata all’uva
Simple but very tasty, each region has its own version to call its own, and the exact date or place of the birth of the schiacciata con l’uva is unknown, as there are no written records. This is what happens with recipes of peasant origin: they are usually transmitted orally from generation to generation.
A very typical feature of Florence is the use of freshly harvested grapes in the preparation of the recipe. The detail is that these grapes, for some reason, would be unsuitable for harvesting, and the schiacciata con l’uva was probably the way found by producers to avoid waste.
Would you like to prepare the schiacciata all’uva at home? We share the recipe here.
A typical Florentine dessert, the Zuccotto is a sweet that doesn’t go in the oven. Traditionally prepared with sponge cake, dipped in alchermes (Florentine liqueur), and stuffed with ricotta and candied fruit flavored with citrus fruit zest.
Born in the Renaissance period, precisely in Florence, it was created in honor of Caterina De’ Medici by Bernando Buontalenti, architect and artist who takes the credit for the Zuccotto.