Healthy Italian Dessert Recipes

Find healthy, delicious Italian dessert recipes, from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.

Staff Picks

Italian Hazelnut Cookies

Rating: Unrated
10
These crispy cookies are made with Piedmontese staples--hazelnuts and eggs--and called Brutti Ma Buoni: literally, “Ugly But Good.” But they are really more plain-looking than “ugly,” and pack a powerful, sweet, nutty burst of flavor, making them welcome at any table.

Pandoro Tiramisù

In this take on tiramisù, the Italian Christmas bread pandoro is used instead of ladyfingers to make this praiseworthy dessert. If you prefer ladyfingers, use 8 ounces in place of the pandoro.

Creamy Chocolate Gelato

Rating: Unrated
9
This ultra-chocolaty, dairy-free Sicilian-style gelato--made without eggs or cream--is relatively lean but still creamy-smooth and flavorful. The coconut milk used for the base gives it a silky, rich mouthfeel and a subtle coconut flavor.

Pignoli Cookies

This crispy-on-the-bottom-and-chewy-on-the-inside gluten-free cookie recipe is a twist on a traditional Italian holiday treat, pignoli, or pine nut cookies. Look for almond paste--a mixture of ground almonds and sugar (available in tubes or sometimes tubs)--near other baking supplies in well-stocked supermarkets or specialty stores. Sweeter marzipan doesn't work well in these cookies.

Nut & Honey Biscotti

This crunchy Italian cookie recipe isn't traditionally very sweet, so just a touch of honey adds flavor along with mild sweetness. Dipping them in chocolate makes them extra special.

Double-Chocolate Biscotti

Rating: Unrated
3
Dense and crunchy, these are the classic Italian dunking cookies. Although they are traditionally dipped in Vin Santo, a sweet Italian dessert wine, these chocolaty biscotti are ultra-satisfying with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti

Rating: Unrated
5
These amazing olive oil biscotti are studded with rich, buttery-tasting pine nuts. Try them alongside fruit sorbet, cheese or summer peaches.

Coffee Panna Cotta

Rating: Unrated
2
Panna cotta (“cooked cream” in Italian) is a silky-smooth dessert that works beautifully with the flavor of coffee. The sauce was inspired by café brûlot, the New Orleans classic coffee drink spiked with flamed brandy. Cooking for teetotalers? Use brandy extract in the panna ­cottas and omit brandy (and flambéing) from the sauce. Garnish with chocolate-covered espresso beans, if desired. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake

Rating: Unrated
3
Turn this moist, dense and truly chocolaty cake into an elegant dessert by garnishing each serving with a dollop of whipped cream, some fresh raspberries and a light dusting of cocoa. Note that this cake does not contain any leavening: beaten egg whites alone are used to lighten it.

Almond Cookies

The Italian name of these almond cookies, Brutti-Buoni, roughly translates to “ugly but good.” These delicious cookies are traditionally dropped directly on a cookie sheet, but shaping them as directed here gives a more elegant look. Enjoy them for dessert with an espresso.

Orange-Almond Slices

These twice-baked almond- and orange-flavored cookies are wonderful on cookie trays or served with fresh fruit or ice cream. Dip one edge of the crunchy slices into melted chocolate to dress them up for a special celebration.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberries

This creamy Italian dessert is flavored with vanilla bean and topped with fresh strawberries. Feel free to mix it up and substitute blueberries or raspberries, or a combination of all three!

Inspiration and Ideas

Polenta Biscotti

Rating: Unrated
1
Delightful with fruit, these crisp golden slices also make a charming partner for a morning caffe latte.

Mascarpone-Stuffed Figs

A creamy, honey-scented mascarpone filling makes this fresh fig recipe luxurious, yet still lets the fruit be the star. Serve these pretty stuffed figs to top off a special meal.

Almond Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce

Panna cotta means "cooked cream" in Italian. This version of the delicious Italian dessert is flavored with amaretto or almond extract and served with a luscious blueberry sauce.