Panettone a treat for the holidays that will stir the senses, delight the taste buds
Executive chef and owner, Cavallario’s Cucina
We all share the familiarity of different types of sweet yeast-leavened breads. Some are filled with dried fruits, such as the hot cross bun, served during the Easter season, and we are all too well aware of the sweet indulgence of yeast bread that is filled with the aromatic spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with a delightful sugar glaze, better known as the classic cinnamon bun.
For the people of Italy, the Christmas bread known as the Panettone is a familiarity they share. This bread, which is also referred to as a cake, contains candied orange, citron, lemon zest and raisins and has a fluffy texture.
The Panettone dates back to the 15th century. It is an awaited tradition for many family tables throughout Italy. Through the extensive business of importing, Panettone is available to us here in the states. You could create your own Panettone via a recipe, but I personally find the small pleasure of awaiting its arrival to the grocery shelf with its beautifully decorated packaging, a step toward the upcoming year-end holiday season.
I was introduced to this sweet yeast bread at a young age, as it was the gift given to our family for several years by an Italian family that descended from the region of Palermo, their family name was Palermo. Just as individual families create and celebrate their own unique family traditions through the holiday season, the same may be said of the preparation and use of the Panettone.
This dome-shaped, leavened bread has the diversity to be served from breakfast to dessert. In the northern region of Milan, Panettone is served warm from the oven as a dessert joined with a sweet beverage such as an Asti wine, or a sweet nutty Italian liqueur such as Disaronno or Frangelico.
Simply sliced and toasted with butter or fruit jam was the way my mother prepared it for us, along with reminding us “that it was a treat,” therefore a slice a day during the season was it for us. At Christmas, my personal adaptation of this traditional bread is made into a rich, warm custard-filled bread pudding, topped with a Frangelico Mascarpone Cream.
The following recipe is simple to prepare, a pleasure to the senses as it bakes, and a delightful treat to eat, so celebrate a little bit of Italy around your family table this holiday season. Mangia!
Panettone Bread Pudding with Frangelico Mascarpone Cream
2 lb. loaf Panettone, cut into 1½-inch cubes, crust trimmed optional
2½ cups heavy cream
3½ cups whole milk
1½ cups sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
9 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup coarsely chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate
¾ cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
2/3 cup dried cranberries
Arrange half of the cubed bread into the bottomed of a lightly buttered, deep dish 9-by-13-inch pan.
Sprinkle half of the chopped chocolate, nuts & berries on bread cubes, repeat layer.
In large bowl, whisk together cream, milk, sugar & vanilla, set aside.
In separate bowl, whisk the eggs & egg yolks till frothy. Incorporate the cream mixture & egg mixture together and evenly pour over the bread cubes. Gently push the bread down into liquid.
Let rest for 15 minutes.
Bake in a 350-degree oven 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, until bread pudding puffs and center is set.
Cool slightly, serve warm with Frangelico mascarpone cream.
In stainless mixing bowl add 2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups confectioners’ sugar and whip till stiff peaks form.
Fold ½ cup Mascarpone Italian Sweet Cheese & ¼ cup Frangelico Liqueur.
Serve alongside Panettone pudding.
ADD: Try making French Toast with Panettone. Top with a little softened butter mixed with honey and cinnamon from your pantry and a few fresh blueberries or raspberries.
TIP: Cut Panettone in approximately 1½-inch thick slices, dip in egg mixture; do not soak.