Christmas Countdown: food for the soul, Italian style

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For any self-respecting Italians out there – and being half-Italian myself I speak with a little bit of authority here – Christmas is just not Christmas without cracking open a Panettone.

Growing up, when I used to see those quirky-shaped boxes, or cylindrical tins with their whimsical decorations, start to appear at home, it would mean only one thing: the start of Chrimbo and the associated feasting (and mega excitement) that comes with the season.

While we used to have them to mark the start of Christmas at home – and it would feel so special to have a huge slice of one of these delicacies – they are also traditionally given by Italians as gifts at Christmas – especially when visiting friends and relatives. I stick to this today – and love finding new variations on what should be a super, light cake to hand over when popping round to friends and family during the festive season.

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So, the sight of a Panettone still brings a level of excitement (sad? me?!). And, for the record, I am firmly against eating this at any other time of the year. Just like mince pies, a panettone IS just for Christmas!

Elevating its status to a supremely indulgent level is Carluccio’s Panettone alla Crema di Prosecco, £19.95. If you like prosecco and you like cake (er, who doesn’t?) then you’ll adore this. After all, what’s not to like?!

Making it stand out from the bog-standard version, the Italian brand has sourced a Venetian take on the recipe, in which local Venetian Prosecco is mixed with a light custard, before piping it into the Panettone for a decadent treat. Presented in a chic cream box, with gold writing and a sage-coloured, satin ribbon, this makes for such a gorgeous gift. It tastes amazing, so step away from it now, if you want to give it to someone special this year… just take my word for it!

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With its bold typography and sapphire-blue tin (this is such a keeper), I’d also like to give an honourable mention and nod – if you are looking for a last minute gift for someone – to Carluccio’s Biscotti Tin, £19.95.

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Packed with a selection of biscuits from Piedmont (a northern Italian region which borders France and Switzerland), this is the perfect accompaniment to, well, winter!

Inside are three classic Italian treats: sugar coated Torcetti (buttery twists), Baci di Dama (two buttery hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with a dark chocolate) and Brutti e Buoni (translated as ‘ugly but good’, these are crunchy-chewy cookies). Perfect with a cappuccino to get the day started, or with a hot chocolate to end it. Ideal with mulled wine in the early evening or to accompany an espresso after lunch… hey, these are good any time. Any takers? (Now, where’s that wrapping paper… whoops, too late!)

Available from: carluccios.com

 

 

 

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