Authentic Italian Dessert Recipes That Rival Your Nonna's

Updated 10/19/18

Which dish comes to mind when you think about Italian cuisine? If melt-in-your-mouth Margherita pizza or parmesan-topped linguine con vongole comes to mind, you're limiting your taste buds, says Rosemary Molloy, founder of An Italian in My Kitchen. "Italian cuisine is best known for lasagna, pizza, and pasta—but believe me, there are so many baked goods just waiting to be discovered," she says in her new cookbook, Authentic Italian Desserts. "Whether you have been to Italy, wish to visit Italy, or are Italian (or not), I want to help you discover the sweet side of Italian cooking."

The book spans 75 traditional dessert recipes Molloy has mastered since moving to Italy 25 years ago. It's a delicious tour of Europe's foodie capital: Learn to make Torta della Nonna (Grandmother's Cake) from Tuscany, Torta Caprese from the famous island of Capri, and fried cannoli from Sicily. Here are three traditional favorites from the new cookbook.

Cannoli Fritti

Authentic Italian Desserts by Rosemary Molloy, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018

Ingredients for the filling

2 2/3 to 3 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips, plus more for serving

Ingredients for the dough

1 1/2 cups all-purpose fl our
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 medium egg
2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 large egg yolk, beaten
Vegetable oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for dusting


To make the ricotta filling, place the ricotta cheese in a sieve over a medium bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours. (It has to drain as long as possible to remove excess moisture.) Remove the ricotta from the fridge and, using a spatula over another medium bowl, push the ricotta through the sieve into the bowl (this helps make it nice and creamy). Add the granulated sugar a little at a time and combine. Test the cheese for sweetness; add more if needed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Place the filling in a pastry bag with a large tip.

To make the cannoli dough, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg and butter, mixing the ingredients together with a fork. Slowly add the wine and mix to combine, starting with a fork and then using your hands until you have a compact dough. Place the dough on a work surface and cover it with a clean tea towel. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into flat, 1/8-inch-thick circles. Wrap the circles around cannoli cylinders.

Torta Caprese

Authentic Italian Desserts by Rosemary Molloy, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018


4 1/2 oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar and grated white chocolate


Preheat the oven to 350°F, then grease and flour an 8-inch springform pan. In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt the dark chocolate and butter, stirring to combine until smooth. Remove the pot from the heat and let the chocolate mixture cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar until stiff peaks appear, 2 to 3 minutes.

Almond Biscotti

Authentic Italian Desserts by Rosemary Molloy, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018


1 cup raw almonds
3 large eggs, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 lemon


Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a 10 x 14-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the almonds on a separate 10 x 14-inch baking sheet and roast them in the oven for approximately 5 minutes. Let them cool.

In a large bowl, beat 2 of the eggs and the sugar for 1 minute. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, honey, vanilla and lemon zest, using your hook attachment to mix the ingredients together. When the dough is almost completely mixed, add the almonds and continue to mix for approximately 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough until it is thoroughly combined (the dough will be slightly sticky).

Divide the dough into three logs approximately 9 inches long. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and brush the dough with the beaten egg. Bake the logs for approximately 20 minutes.

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Mastered one of the recipes from this cookbook? Share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #MyDomaineEats. 

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