For even the most disciplined traveller to Italy, it is hard to say no to all the delicious temptations that await you. It seems that every bar-caffè or pasticceria has an endless display of cookies, chocolates or some other enticement. Italian desserts range in flavor from slightly bitter to sweet but usually not overwhelmingly sweet and are often best served with a wine. However you’ll find that most Italians generally avoid sugary pastries in favour of “Dulci per Adulti” or “Sweets for Adults”. When an espresso and some fruit isn’t enough to suffice, Italians reach for something both savoury and sweet. Traditionally, dulci per adulti consists of a pairing of cheese and sweet lipids and most visitors to Italy will experience the tradition as a cheese plate stacked with thin slices of aged pecorino – parmesan’s salty cousin – drizzled with honey. The two flavors are profoundly complimentary. The taste of the mild, nutty cheese and the taste of the honey melt into each other quickly, unifying on the palate into something extraordinarily delicate.
But dulci per adulti isn’t limited to one blockbuster combo. Gorgonzola cheese, spread across a thin slice of bread and drizzled with honey is a memorable after dinner treat that leaves a wonderful taste in the mouth and compliments a full-bodied red wine. A more toothy option comes from dipping chunks of crumbled parmesan into aged balsamic vinegar, drizzling lightly with honey, and consuming (typically, with relish). For those that cheese and honey won’t suffice, there are countless choices such as tiramisu, gelato, cannoli, biscotti… the list goes on and on. So for today, to end Italian week, I’ve given you two dessert recipes; one a little heavier than the other, depending on your mood (and your diet). The tiramisu is great for a crowd, and the biscotti are perfect for a quiet night, or curled up with a cup of espresso. No matter what you choose to finish your meal, it will be a dolce notte!