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Italian Pastries Recipes

Patrick Mooney
Italian Pastries Recipes

In Italy, every aspect of food is celebrated so it is no surprise that there are endless Italian pastries recipes.

When in Rome

Dinner in Italy will usually end with some cheese and fruit, so at first look one might think that Italians don't eat pastries as much as Americans do. They do eat pastries, just not after dinner. In Italy, sweets are usually eaten during the day as treats to enjoy with an afternoon coffee, for example, or a quick Granita after work. Every holiday and feast day has it's own special meal and special Italian pastries. Recipes can be as simple as a Zeppole dusted with powdered sugar to celebrate San Guiseppe day (March 19th) or as complicated as a tricolor almond cookie, which I like to make for every celebration. From cookies and cakes to gelati and puddings, the Italian passion for sweets and pastries is unmistakable.

Italian Pastries Recipes

When I'm at home with time on my hands, I inevitably start to bake. There is a calming peace when baking because you can't rush through it. There is a simple joy in the making and sharing of a cake or cookies. I like to make Italian pastries since recipes calling for polenta, pine nuts, almond paste, or even olive oil are natural for me because I have the ingredients on hand already.


Every September in New York, as the weather starts to turn cold, there is the feast of San Gennaro. I am absolutely certain there are other things happening at the feast, but I take the feast part very seriously and basically eat my way through the festival. One of the first things I head for is the Zeppole. Zeppole are similar to doughnuts in that they are fried dough, but they are more abstract in shape because the dough is not shaped before it is dropped into the oil.


  • 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¾ cup of warm water
  • 1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil, enough to fry in
  • Confectioners sugar to dust


  1. Pour the water into a bowl, add the sugar, and then sprinkle the yeast over the water.
  2. Let the yeast bloom, about two minutes.
  3. Stir the mixture until the yeast dissolves.
  4. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Add the yeast water and mix until blended.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour and a half.
  7. Use a large pan with sides more than two inches high.
  8. Pour 2 inches of oil into the pan.
  9. Heat oil to 375 degrees or hot enough to brown a small amount of the dough in one minute.
  10. Drop the dough into the oil one teaspoon at a time. Do not overcrowd the pan.
  11. Once the Zeppole are golden brown, about three minutes, remove and drain.
  12. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

Chocolate and Polenta Tart

You will need a 10-inch tart shell for this Italian pastry recipe.

Tart Shell


  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup instant polenta
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 stick of butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes, kept cold
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Put the flour, polenta, sugar, salt, and lemon zest into a food processor.
  2. Pulse until the ingredients are just combined.
  3. Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture is well combined. It will look like wet sand.
  4. In a bowl, whisk the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Add the combined wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and pulse until the mixture forms a ball of dough.
  6. Remove the dough from the processor. Form the dough into a disk about 2 inches thick.
  7. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

The Tart


  • 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fine polenta
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • Confectioners sugar to dust


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out your chilled tart dough to 1/8 inch thick and about 11 inches round.
  3. Transfer the dough to the pan and carefully fit the dough to the pan.
  4. Trim the dough to the top part of the tart pan.
  5. Return the dough in the pan to the refrigerator.
  6. While the dough chills, place the chocolate and butter in a Bain Marie.
  7. Melt over a low flame. Stir occasionally.
  8. Using your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, blend the eggs, sugar, and salt.
  9. Whisk on high speed until thick, about three minutes.
  10. Add the vanilla, whisk until incorporated.
  11. Fold the egg mixture into the melted chocolate.
  12. Sift the flour and polenta together and fold into the mixture.
  13. Fold until completely combined.
  14. Pour into the tart pan.
  15. Bake for 25 minutes.
  16. Let rest until completely cool.
  17. Dust with the confectioner's sugar.

Notes and Hints

Fine polenta and instant polenta can be used interchangeably.

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Italian Pastries Recipes