A visit to Venice offers the opportunity of discovering its fascinating local cuisine which includes a range of amazing desserts. The most famous are fried desserts such as Venetian fritole, crostoli, castagnole, a variety of cookies, cakes such as pinza Veneta or fregolotta and the most popular Italian dessert - tiramisu.
The most popular sweets from this region are fritole (or fritoe in local dialect) - fried doughnuts made of flour, yeast, eggs, sugar, lemon and Marsala wine. You will come across a variety of these addictive pastries however the most typical are fritole Veneziane - the one with rum soaked raisins and pine nuts. Fritole can be filled with pastry cream or with zabajon etc.
If you have the opportunity to go to Venice during the Carnival, make sure you stop at one of the pastry shops to have soft warm fritole. They go well with a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or a glass of dessert wine.
Favette or castagnole (meaning little chestnuts) are another sweets traditionally prepared during the Carnival time in Italy. Small in size, they have a soft texture and a lovely aromatic flavour that makes them extremely moreish. They also come in different versions so we have castagnole with ricotta, castagnole con zucca, castagnole filled with pastry cream etc. We have interesting recipe for castagnole made with rather unusual chestnut flour.
For those who like crusty desserts, your choice should be galani also known as crostoli. For this dessert a sweet dough is flattened into thin strips and then deep-fried and dusted with icing sugar. The dough should always include wine or some kind of liqueur, as it causes the pastry to become very light and crisp when fried.
Similar sweets are also also in other Italian regions and are known under different names. Therefore, During Carnival, you'll find cenci in Tuscany, frappe in Central Italy, bugie in Piedmont, chiacchiere in Lombardy etc. Another simple dessert enjoyed during the Carnival in Venice is crema fritta which is thick custard cream, breaded and fried.
Venice is also the home of traditional cookies which are ideal for dunking in some sweet dessert wine. Zaeti (also called zaletti) are cookies whose name comes from the local word for yellow as they are made from cornmeal.
Bussolai (or buranelli) are ring shaped shortbread cookies originally from the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon. Their name comes from the word 'busa' which, in the Venetian dialect, means hole. Baicoli are cookies which take their name from the shape of a sea bass. These thin cookies remain consistency for a long time. Baicoli are usually served with a coffee and zabaglione.
Fregolotta is a simple dried tart made of short crust pastry with flour, eggs, butter, almonds and aromas. This cake was born in Treviso and makes part of the traditional products of Veneto. It is a typical dessert of the Holiday periods and Epiphany together with another typical dessert of Veneto - pinza.
Pinza Veneta is a rustic cake made of polenta and wheat flour filled with dried fruits such as raisins, figs, dates and is flavoured with grappa, fennel seeds and orange zest. This cake is a part of the tradition for Epiphany in the Veneto region of Italy.
Pandoro (meaning golden bread) is a sweet bread usually prepared for Christmas and New Year. It originates from Verona where it took its name from its intensive yellow colour which comes from the large amount of fresh egg yolks. Pandoro has an attractive look with its star shape and is dusted with icing sugar.
If you are looking for a dessert that makes a perfect ending to any meal, you should try one of the Italian classics - tiramisu. This light dessert is a combination of fluffy cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs and coffee-dipped ladyfingers. The tiramisu dessert originates from the Veneto region but today is spread throughout the Italy and worldwide.
Venice is a unique city, full of wonderful historical sights and of course delicious food. Coffee and pastries, ciccheti, seafood pasta and Italian wines - they've got it all. If you take a food tour a local guide will take you through the less touristy spots - places where the locals go to taste delicious Venetian food and drinks.