It's setting up to be a summer full of BBQs, outdoor gatherings, and social events, and no true reunion is complete without a great dessert to follow. For those living in hot weather climates - and even hotter, for some - during the summer, a lesson could be taken from Sicily on the most refreshing and delicious desserts. And the best part is that there's something for everyone from frozen treats to desserts that aren't frozen but can definitely be served chilled.
Italy's dessert culture has been fully adopted by the U.S. for the most part, and traces of its influences can be seen in other parts of the world, as well. The granita, for example, is the closest to a type of shaved ice, which is prevalent in many countries worldwide. Pastries that are served at room temperature is something that France does exceptionally well, as the pastry is practically an art form there - and Italy has its very own version of this, too. For the most simple desserts that can be made at home, take a queue from these Sicilian treats that will be perfect for that hot summer's day.
Granita di Mandorla
A granita, by definition, is a frozen, icy treat that can be found in a variety of flavors around Sicily. The trick to a granita maintaining its icy texture is to scrape it every few hours so that tiny ice shavings can be formed.
The re-freezing of the granita when it's placed back into the freezer is partially responsible for keeping it so creamy. This granita, in particular, can be made with either almond paste or crushed almonds, but almond paste will make for a smoother, more potent flavor.
While Buccellato is a ring-shaped cake that's usually made for holidays, it's also appropriate to be made when celebrating family milestones, according to Taste Atlas. Therefore, it seems highly appropriate to have at the next family gathering - since we're all celebrating milestones in the form of reuniting right now.
The cake is usually filled with some type of fruit filling and symbolizes prosperity and good fortune. Both of which are also very appropriate! Although it's classified as a fruit cake, it's so much better than the cake many people associate with the winter holidays.
Biscotti di Mandorla
Who says that a cookie can't be a great summer dessert? Not us and certainly not Sicily! This almond-flavored cookie is baked until firm but soft, making for a truly buttery, one-bite treat that's perfect for a day when a pie is just too dang hot.
The combination of finely crushed almonds, whipped egg whites, powdered sugar, and lemon zest gives these cookies a zip and a zing that exudes summer vibes.
Granita al Limone
Anything that can be served inside of a hollowed-out lemon is definitely something worth adding to the summer dessert menu. Similar to the first granita, Granita al Limone is the same only with a citrus twist.
This smooth and creamy dessert is made with lemon zest and lemon juice, with a decent amount of sugar to balance out all that tang. The result is a dessert that's perfectly sweet and sour.
Granita di Caffè
For those who are looking for a jolt, this is a solid alternative to something like tiramisu or even as a lighter option to coffee ice cream. Granita di Caffè is similar to sorbetto with its use of coffee in this frozen treat.
While it can be found throughout Sicily, this coffee-flavored granita, in particular, is said to have been created for the first time in Messina, Italy.
This unique-looking dessert gets its shape thanks to the sponge cake that's used as a base, which is then topped with sweetened ricotta. While it's not something that's served frozen, it is a dessert that's served cold and the creaminess of the ricotta does quite echo that of a cheesecake or cannoli filling.
This is the most famous and beloved dessert in all of Sicily and it starts with a base of liquored-up sponge cake, followed by that delicious sweet ricotta, and, finally, fruit preserves atop that along with a marzipan shell over the whole thing. This dessert might take some time to assemble just because of its layers but it's worth it when you have that first bite. Traditionally, the marzipan layer is a pastel color while the very top of this small cake is decorated with strips of dried fruits. The cake is said to resemble that of an Italian ricotta cheesecake and the flavors are similar, with cassata having more texture and balance.