Although creamy tiramisu, crisp biscotti and fruity gelato might be the first things that come to mind when you think of Italian desserts, they are only the top of what is a very large dessert iceberg. In Dolci: Italy’s Sweets, author Francine Segan has put together a collection of more than 200 modern and classic recipes for desserts and other sweet treats from Italy. Segan was named the USA Ambassador for Italian sweets by Italy’s National Association of Confectioners (AIDI), so you can be sure that her recipes are authentic and capture the flavors and spirit of Italy. There are desserts that are familiar, and ones that are likely to become new favorites, and all have that welcoming, homey feel that Italian cooking manages to project so easily.
The recipes in the book are very approachable, and each is preceded by a short introduction about the recipe. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with tips throughout that will make the cooking and baking process go smoothly. Readers might be surprised by how simple some of the recipes are, and there are plenty that would make for a quick weeknight dessert featured alongside more complicated baked goods that might be more appropriate for a birthday or holiday celebration. There are also many suggestions for variations on the recipes, so you’ll have lots of options for your favorites when you go back to make them more than once. The photos included in the book are beautiful, but there are not a tremendous number of them, so in many cases you’ll have to make the recipe to find out what the finished product looks like.
Most of the ingredients used in the book are things you can find at any market. There are a few that are more likely to be available at specialty markets and the book includes some suggestions for specialty and online retailers that will stock the more unusual items called for in a few of the recipes. The book is likely to be a hit with anyone, but I have to admit that it would make a particularly good gift for friends of Italian descent or those who particularly love Italian food and want to make a connection to the classic desserts and flavors of Italy.