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34 of Nonna’s Best Italian Desserts

Italians have a knack for coming up with desserts that satisfy on every level! Here are some treats that you (and Nonna) will love.

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Italian Honey Clusters

My mother made these treats flavored with cinnamon and anise for neighbors, teachers and anyone who stopped by. Make sure the honey doesn’t boil longer than a minute or it could burn.—Sarah Knoblock, Hyde Park, Indiana

Check out these other desserts from around the world!

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Must-Have Tiramisu

This is the perfect guilt-free version of a classic dessert. My friends even say that they prefer my lighter recipe over other tiramisu.—Ale Gambini, Beverly Hills, California
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Italian Sprinkle Cookies

Of all the Italian cookie recipes I make, this is my favorite. These sprinkle cookies take some time, but, believe me, they are well worth it! My husband and I used to operate an Italian American restaurant, and this recipe goes back generations. —Gloria Cracchiolo, Newburgh, New York
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Amaretto Ricotta Cheesecake

There's a good reason why this cherished recipe was handed down to me by a relative. It's a keeper! The amaretto and ricotta make for a truly unique dessert. —Isabel Neuman, Surprise, Arizona
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Double-Drizzled Biscotti

Semisweet and white chocolate drizzles give these biscotti a pretty look. The baking time is shorter than for some biscotti, so they're a little softer. —Cheryl Ludemann, Boonville, New York
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Tangerine Chocolate Semifreddo

When I wanted a new frozen treat for my family, I came up with this citrusy, chocolaty version of classic Italian semifreddo. For an elegant presentation on special occasions, top each serving with whipped cream, a tangerine section and baking cocoa. —Claire Cruce, Atlanta, Georgia
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Limoncello Cream Pie

After a big Christmas dinner, we love the cool refreshment of a frozen lemon pie. Limoncello brings a little sophistication to each smooth, creamy slice. —Jessie Grearson-Sapat, Falmouth, Maine
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Anise & Wine Cookies

My grandmother did not speak English very well, but she knew the language of great food. These wine cookies are crisp and best eaten after being dunked in even more wine.—Julia Meyers, Scottsdale, Arizona
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Pine Nut Snowballs

My great aunt Commie’s Russian tea cakes, along with pine nuts and amaretto, inspired this recipe. —Christianna Gozzi, Astoria, New York
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Chocolate Anise Cannoli

Here’s that something-special treat you’ve been looking to add to your holiday cookie trays! We guarantee these wonton-wrapped bites with anise, cherries, chocolate, brandy and pistachios will be gone in a twinkling. —Marie Rizzio, Interlochen, Michigan
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Italian Orange-Fig Cookies

This is one of the first holiday cookies I made when I found out I could no longer eat gluten. In those eight years, six of my family members and friends have also had to give up gluten, so these delicious Italian cookies have now become a treasured holiday tradition for all of us. By the way, no one will know they're gluten free unless you tell them! The cookies last for weeks if stored in a dry place. —Suzanne Banfield, Basking Ridge, New Jersey
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Almond-Ricotta Twists

A very dear friend gave me this recipe so I make these to remind me of our time together. I like to drizzle melted white chocolate or chocolate chips on the baked cookies.—Paula Prechtl, Brockport, Pennsylvania
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Marvelous Cannoli Cake

A luscious, chocolate-studded cannoli filling separates the tender vanilla layers of this rich cake, which starts with a package mix. It’s best when served well chilled.—Antoinette Owens, Ridgefield, Connecticut
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Chocolate Fruit N Nut Cookies

Filled with fruit, nuts, chocolate and loads of flavor, these traditional Italian treats hit the spot. We enjoy them at Christmas with a hot beverage.
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Chocolate Cannoli

Our version of a famous Italian dessert features a creamy filling dotted with chocolate chunks. The chopped pistachios are an attractive touch.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Italian Christmas Cookies

A single batch of these ricotta cheese cookies is never enough. I usually make one to give away and two more to keep at home. The ricotta cheese makes the morsels extra moist. —Doris Marshall, Strasburg, Pennsylvania
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Italian Rainbow Cookies

My family has made these classic Italian cookies for generations, and this homemade version is so much better than the bakery version. They are always a special treat during the holidays or any time of year!—Cindy Casazza, Hopewell, New Jersey
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Tiramisu Cheesecake Dessert

Tiramisu didn't do it for me until I tried this recipe with its luscious layers of cheesecake. It's one of my favorite desserts to make this time of year. —Christie Nelson, Taylorville, Illinois
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Almond Chocolate Biscotti

My neighbors look forward to getting my gifts of these chocolate-covered cookies. I love that this chocolate biscotti recipe is such a cinch to make. —Ginger Chatfield, Muscatine, Iowa
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Lemon Gelato

On a recent trip to Italy, I became addicted to gelato. My favorite choice was lemon because Italian lemons have an intense flavor. This recipe brings back memories of our vacation. —Gail Wang, Troy, Michigan
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Coconut Italian Cream Cake

I’d never tasted an Italian cream cake before moving to Colorado. Now I bake for people in the area, and this beauty is one of my most requested treats. —Ann Bush, Colorado City, Colorado
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Make-Ahead Tiramisu

This variation of the popular Italian dessert is so easy to assemble. It's convenient, too, since you can make it the day before your dinner party or potluck. —Linda Finn, Louisville, Mississippi
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Italian Pignoli Cookies

Cookies are the crown jewels of Italian confections. I can’t let a holiday go by without baking these traditional almond cookies rolled in mild pine nuts.—Maria Regakis, Somerville, Massachusetts
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Pizzelle

This recipe was adapted from one that my Italian-born mother and grandmother followed. They used old irons on a gas stove, but now we have the convenience of electric pizzelle irons. These delectable cookies are still a traditional treat in our family. —Elizabeth Schwartz, Trevorton, Pennsylvania
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Lavender Peach Gelato

This sophisticated herbal gelato can be served as an appetizer, a palate-pleaser between courses or a dessert that tastes like heaven on a spoon. —Christine Wendland, Browns Mills, New Jersey
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Italian Lemon Cookies

Christmas wouldn't be the same without my grandmother's cookies. A plate full of these light and zesty cookies is divine!—Elisabeth Miller, Broadview Heights, Ohio
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Italian Cenci Cookies

My mother brought this special family recipe from Europe a century ago. Cenci can be "dressed up" for any holiday—at Easter, I sprinkle yellow, pink and lavender jelly beans over them, and for Christmas, red and green candy sprinkles give the cenci a festive look. Even without the garnish, they always disappear fast! —Anna Coduto, Fullerton, California
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Italian Holiday Cookies

Many of our holiday traditions center around the foods my mother made while I was growing up. These cookies, which we called "Strufoli", bring back wonderful memories. —Sue Seymour, Valatie, New York
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Tender Italian Sugar Cookies

These traditional Italian cookies are moist and tender. —Weda Mosellie, Phillipsburg, New Jersey
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Fig & Almond Cookies

In our family, holiday cookies—like these nutty fig ones—are a big deal. I'm so proud to be passing on this Italian tradition to my two boys. —Angela Lemoine, Howell, New Jersey
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Anise Biscotti

My aunt would make anise recipes all the time for dessert and these biscotti were my favorite. I can remember walking into the house and I'd almost swoon when I smelled them baking—the aroma seemed to fill every room. —Esther Perea, Van Nuys, California
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Cannoli Wafer Sandwiches

My family loves to visit a local Italian restaurant that has a wonderful dessert buffet. The cannoli is among our favorite choices, so I just had to come up with my own simple version. These sandwiches are best served the same day so the wafers remain nice and crisp. —Nichi Larson, Shawnee, Kansas
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Rainbow Layered Cookies

Balanced beautifully in the sweet spot between cake and cookie, these sensational slices will be the centerpiece of your cookie tray.—Sherry Thompson, Seneca, South Carolina
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Brownie Affogato Sundaes

We can’t resist brownie sundaes. I combined an affogato (coffee-based beverage) idea with a brownie to get this decadent sundae that mixes it all in there: warm, cold, sweet and salty. —Julie Merriman, Seattle, Washington

Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.

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