About This Course

In this course, you will learn about Italy's delicious pastries and desserts and, most importantly, how and when to eat them. As with everything, Italians don't eat whatever, whenever. We have our breakfast pastries, our after-meal desserts, mid-afternoon gelato. Yes, we like to have things the proper way and enjoy them at the right time of the day. So here's the story.

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Morning Breakfast

Italians have a sweet breakfast. Before we even turn our brains on (well, actually, to turn our brains on) we quietly walk to the kitchen and prepare a moka pot coffee. There is nothing better than starting your day with the bubbling sound of coffee as the aromas embrace your home. Buongiorno!, it's telling you.

We pour our hot coffee in a small espresso cup or in a glass of hot or cold milk to make caffellatte. Some like to treat themselves with a homemade cappuccino.

For breakfast we eat a piece of cake or pie, like a ciambellone or a crostata. Maybe some cookies like ciambelline al vino. Others prefer pane, burro e marmellata, bread topped with butter and jam.

Did you know? The word biscotti simply means cookies. It does not refer to any specific type of cookie (so no, that's not how Italians call the Tuscan cantucci!). Biscotti are just cookies.

And of course, we boost our energy with another cup of espresso halfway through our morning.

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After-meal Desserts

After lunch or dinner, we may decide to end a meal with something sweet. Let us here introduce you to a category of desserts that we call dolci al cucchiaio, desserts by the spoon. The term is quite self-explanatory as it is a dessert that you eat with a spoon. It's typically creamy and served in a dessert bowl or sliced. Think about tiramisùpanna cotta, mousse, semifreddo, gelato.

Italians don't usually have cake after their meal, unless it's something rich and delicious as a chocolate caprese (or it's someone's birthday!). It would never occur to us to have a breakfast pastry after lunch or dinner.

And what about coffee? Always after lunch, some like it after dinner as well. And here's a no-no: we never ever drink cappuccino after a meal. For us Italians, cappuccino is considered a breakfast drink and there's an unspoken rule that you don't have it after noon. Having milk with or after a meal is not part of our culinary tradition as it would interfere with the flavors of the food we're having. Plus, we consider milk a meal in itself.

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Merenda, Afternoon Snacks

Che c'è per merenda?! Kids ask this question every day when they want to know what they can have for snack. Afternoon merende are a thing in Italy.

Italians generally have dinner at about 8 pm ... slightly earlier in northern Italy and definitely later in the south ... so between lunch (typically around 1 pm) and dinner, they have a snack, somewhere between 4.30 and 5.30 pm.

Afternoon snacks can be sweet or savory and they can go from a slice of pizza to breakfast pastry and cookies, all the way to gelato. A cone of gelato is probably Italy's favorite merenda! It's a not-so-filling snack that gives kids a boost of energy but doesn't interfere with their dinner appetite.

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