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Treats of the Season: Pizzelle, Pineapple Squares, and Panettone

December 16, 2020

Treats of the Season:  Pizzelle, Pineapple Squares, and Panettone (with video)

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

(with reading by Mary Fanyo, via video link)

                On this first evening of the celebration of Posadas (December 16 through Christmas Eve), I am thinking not only of the reenactment of the Nativity, but also of the treats of the season.  What goodies usually adorn your holiday trays during this merry season?  On this taste-tempting post on WORDWALK, I will mention only three of quite a number of treats that my family has enjoyed through the decades; then, you will find a link to a video of my sister’s reading of a delightful children’s book entitled Tony’s Bread:  An Italian Folktale.

                First, pizzelle are traditional Italian waffle cookies which have been very popular in my extended family.  Thanks to an electric appliance called a “Pizzelle Maker,” the very thin waffle cookies can be easily made–typically two or three cookies at a time.  While anise is the traditional flavor, you may also make pizzelle with vanilla flavoring, lemon zest, or chocolate.  Of course, my favorite is anise. 

                In the 1950s, a little Italian lady from our hometown of Blanford had the best ever recipe for Pizzelle.  Mrs. Bonariva (Mrs. Busy) was kind enough each Christmas to give a box of her homemade Pizzelle as a gift to her postmaster–my mother.  Thus, from a young age, I began to enjoy these tasty Italian treats of the season.  Although Mrs. Bonariva was quite a dancer, I would give her the blue ribbon for her baking skills in making perfect Pizzelle.  The making of these delicate cookies, frequently dusted with powdered sugar, has been passed down through the generations of my Italian-American family.

                You can easily find Pizzelle makers and many recipes for Pizzelle online.  By the way, the singular of “Pizzelle” is “Pizzella.”  But, who can eat just one Pizzella?

                In my family, another delectable treat that we most associate with the holiday season is “Mrs. Pickard’s Pineapple Squares,” the recipe for which I shared in my September 16, 2020 blog post.  On that same WORDWALK post, you can read the festive story behind this pastry recipe.  I highly recommend this recipe which my mother perfected and which was always in high demand.

                Finally, the feature of this post is “Panettone,” which is a bell-shaped sweet bread from Milan, Italy, and is speckled with raisins, citrus, and almonds.  However, the texture of Panettone is nothing like that of a fruitcake:  Panettone is much softer and lighter.  Served as a dessert, Panettone may be dipped into wine or eaten with your favorite hot holiday beverage; additionally, Panettone may add flair to your breakfast or brunch. 

                While the Milanese origins of this special bread date back to the Renaissance, the word “Pizzelle” first appeared in an Italian/Milanese dictionary in 1839.  Centuries ago, when wheat was scarce in Italy, Panettone was made only for Christmas.  Popular throughout Italy and the United States, Panettone is still most associated with the Christmas season. 

                Besides being available in Italian specialty stores, Panettone may also be purchased in a variety of sizes at some supermarkets and other shops.  The bell-shaped box topped with a red ribbon may appear as a Christmas ornament, but inside you or the recipient of your gift will find a delicious sweet bread.  Naturally, you may also find online this treat of the season and a number of recipes for Panettone.  I must confess that my family of bakers never made Panettone, but I certainly have enjoyed receiving and giving Panettone as a Christmas gift.

                Now, to hear even more about the reason for the shape of Panettone and to enjoy a delightful story, read by Mary Elizabeth Fanyo (recently retired preschool teacher), please enjoy the following video link which is approximately fourteen minutes of reading the children’s book Tony’s Bread: An Italian Folktale, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola (copyright 1989, G. P. Putnam’s Sons).  My sister is reading from a copy of the book which was autographed to her younger son by Tomie de Paola in 1991; you may still find the book online or at your local library.  Meanwhile, please enjoy the holiday video, filmed by Mary’s husband, Ric.  Yuletide thanks to Mary and Ric!

Enjoy all the tasty and reading treats of this holiday season!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

December 16, 2020, Wednesday


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  1. A wonderful story, read well with even an Italian accent, for a snowy morning here in Michigan!

    • Christmas Greetings!  Linda–How nice to hear from you via WORDWALK!  Mary and I are glad to hear that you enjoyed the book TONY’S BREAD.  We hope that all are very well at the Prairie Cottages during this holiday season, and we think of you all often.

      Christmas Blessings, and yuletide thanks!

      Alice and Willow

  2. Francetta Rayce permalink

    Hi Alice and Willow,

    What a delightful post with a grand reading by Mary. Tomie DePaolo is one of my favorite children’s authors with his always delightful characters and in this book, a charming origin story. Coincidentally, yesterday a Panettone of my own arrived in the mail, a gift from my daughter, Laura. It will be a wonderful holiday treat. It is chocolate flavored, a new idea for me. I’ll report back on this new flavor.

    I hope that you and Willow are doing well, and staying busy and warm. We have had snow, not a great amount, just the pretty, cleansing kind.

    Merry Christmas to you both.
    Fondly, Fran

    • Christmas Greetings!  Fran–Yuletide thanks for reading and sending a comment!  What a coincidence that you received a Panettone yesterday from your daughter!  Only last year did I hear of a chocolate Panettone.  I did receive a chocolate Panettone last Christmas and did enjoy the chocolate variety, but I think my favorite remains the traditional Panettone.

      Merry Christmas to you and all of your family!

      Happy 2021, too–Alice and Willow

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