Tipical desserts

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As for desserts, Emilia-Romagna can boast a long list of delicacies and is certainly not behind anyone for the number of recipes.

Some have very ancient origins, often unwritten, and have come down to us handed down from family to family and from generation to generation.

It is therefore not surprising that there are several variations starting from the same recipe. Over the years many have become staples of regional pastry, such as Pampapato (or Panpepato) on Ferrara tables since the Renaissance and now PGI, others, however, have been almost forgotten or their diffusion has been limited to localities or cities of 'origin.

To ensure that many desserts do not fall into oblivion, the moments of sociality and celebration of the local communities have enormously contributed, through festivals, baptisms, confirmations and weddings, have enriched the book of regional recipes, leaving a sugary trace over time.

Busslanein De.Co

Busslanein are delicious necklaces made up of donuts, typical of the municipality of Rottofreno (Piacenza), made with flour, butter, sugar and milk.

Known since 1300 throughout the Val Tidone, they were once given as gifts by godparents to confirmands.
Today they are sold with and without sugar, hard, or more crumbly, during market days and on the occasion of local festivals.

Spongata (or spungata)

Toasted bread, macaroons, walnuts, honey, sugar, pine nuts, sultanas, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel, white wine: these are the ingredients that make up the recipe for spongata, a typical Emilian dessert that has its origins in the early Middle Ages, if not even earlier.

The strange name derives from “sponga”, literally sponge, due to the spongy and irregular aspect of its surface which brings to mind a sponge.

From Piacenza to Parma, Reggio Emilia to Modena, also crossing the regional borders (Massa-Carrara, La Spezia, Imperia and Mantua), there are many centers that compete for its production.

Biscione reggiano

Made with almonds, sugar, eggs and candied fruit, the Reggio Emilia biscione is a typical Christmas dessert produced by the ancient pastry shops in the city of Reggio Emilia.

Composed of simple ingredients, it is produced in the form of a snake, or a dragon with open jaws, entirely covered with meringue.
In some it can even be very long, rolled over several levels of a cake pan.


The zabaione is a preparation that boasts several centuries of history on which there are conflicting sources regarding the origins and the name. One of these tells that it was "invented" in 1500 near Scandiano by the mercenary captain Emiliano Giovanni Baglioni, casually mixing eggs, flour and white wine.

Beyond the veracity of this story, zabaglione is a recipe based on egg yolks, muscatel and sugar. It is prepared hot, in a double boiler, using Marsala wine, and adding a chopped biscuit or amaretto inside.

Duchess cake

Considered the sweet Parmesan par excellence, the Duchessa cake is a very rich and slightly alcoholic cake, made up of three discs of hazelnut paste, a delicious chocolate ganache, a heart of eggnog and a decoration with chopped hazelnuts and candied cherries.

Suitable as the end of a meal for large events, this delicacy has a tasty and elegant appearance, and is present in all the best pastry shops in Parma, often also in a miniature version.

Barozzi cake

The Barozzi Cake is a typical dessert from the Vignola area, in the province of Modena.
Made with flour, milk, chocolate, coffee, eggs, butter and sugar, it was invented in the late 1800s by the pastry chef Gollini who had opened a workshop right in the heart of the village.

Today the recipe is jealously guarded by the pastry shop that has registered the trademark with the name of “Torta Barozzi”.

Africanetto of San Giovanni di Persiceto

Halfway between a Savoyard and a spumino, obtained from the amalgam of egg yolks and sugar, Africanetti (Africanét or Margherita biscuits) are an ancient Bolognese delight, typical of the municipality of San Giovanni in Persiceto where they are a sort of 'institution.

If they originally had an ingot shape, now it is easier to find them rectangular, circular or even oval, sold loose or packed in the characteristic cardboard boxes.

Rice cake (or cake of decorations)

The rice cake is a typical dessert of Emilian cuisine, with a soft and creamy texture. Simple in preparation, it is a compound made from rice, milk, without the use of flour and yeast.

Like many regional sweets, it has an ancient origin. In Bologna, where it is called the cake of decorations, it was already prepared in the 1400s when the streets were embellished with colored drapes. According to tradition, it was cut into rhombuses and brushed with a liqueur such as Sassolino or Anicione.

There are several versions of the rice cake. Among these, that of Reggio is included in the list of traditional agri-food products of Emilia Romagna.

Tagliatelle cake (noodles cake)

Beautiful to look at and delicious to eat, the tagliatelle cake is a typical holiday dessert, reserved for special moments such as Sunday lunch, but also Christmas and Easter.

Also known as curly cake, it consists of a shortcrust pastry base, a filling of almonds, candied citron, sugar, liqueur and a topping of real egg tagliatelle.

Behind it has a long tradition and is widespread with different versions throughout the Emilian territory once subject to Este domination, in particular the Ferrara area. In Bologna, the recipe was filed with the local Chamber of Commerce, while in the municipality of Molinella it was even registered as a De.Co product.


Present in the list of traditional food products of Emilia Romagna, the Tenerina cake is a chocolate cake typical of the city of Ferrara.

Known since 1900 as Montenegrin cake or Queen of Montenegro cake, in honor of Elena Petrovich of Montenegro, the bride of the then King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele III, it was nicknamed by the people of Ferrara, tacolenta cake, due to its almost sticky internal consistency that needs to be melted. in the mouth.

Describing from a crunchy exterior and a soft semi-liquid chocolate heart, today it is served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.


The bustrengo is a typical dessert of the Romagna hinterland whose recipe is widespread in some hilly and mountain areas, in particular in the Savio, Rubicone and Montefeltro valleys.

It was once prepared during the winter, recycling and mixing many of those ingredients already available in the pantry. For this there is no single recipe, but several variations.

It is prepared starting from a dough made from eggs, bread, milk and sugar, adding different ingredients, including apples, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, chestnut flour, raisins, cocoa and much more. Even today, every family in the area jealously preserves their own recipe.

Ciambella of Romagna (Romagna donut)

The Romagna donut is not as round as one would expect, with the classic hole in the center, but stretched out in a loaf or loaf.

Tradition has it that it was once prepared at home in the days leading up to Easter. Today it is cooked for any occasion.
Its ingredients are poor and are those at the base of many sweets of the Romagna peasant tradition such as eggs, flour, sugar, milk, butter.

The donut is normally served in slices, at breakfast or after meals, and does not mind being accompanied in these cases by a good glass of sweet Albana or Cagnina.


The canterelle (cantarèli in dialect) are an ancient Romagna dessert, typical of the Rimini area, reminiscent of American pancakes in shape and cooking.

These delicious pancakes are kneading the flour with water, and cooking the mixture obtained on the Romagna text (or in a pan) with oil and a pinch of sugar. The existing variants are different, especially in the filling phase but the preparation recipe always remains the same.

Every year, between the last weekend of September and the first weekend of October, Gatteo Mare dedicates a party to cantarella.

Piada of the dead

Certainly a very bizarre name for this typical dessert of the Romagna tradition.

The explanation is simple and is linked to the time of year in which it is prepared, between the end of October and the beginning of November on the occasion of the commemoration of the dead.

Composed of a base of semi-sweet bread, this delicacy is stuffed with dried fruit (walnuts, almonds and pine nuts) and brushed with beaten eggs and sugar, or honey.

But know that the sweets do not end here and depending on the province they can also taste:

In Piacenza and its province
Turtlitt in Sant'Antoni
Almond cake alla bobbiese (Turt ad mandurl)
Albarola fig cake
Crunchy Bobbiese (Crucànt)

In Reggio Emilia and its province
Sponge cake and custard
Carnival intrigues
Grape sauce

In Modena and its province
Crunchy from the Apennines

In Bologna and its province
Bolognese raviole of San Giuseppe
Mountain Sugar

In Ravenna and its province

Last update 21/11/2021

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