Healthy Italian Dessert Recipes

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

Staff Picks

Creamy Chocolate Gelato

Rating: Unrated
7
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.

Italian Hazelnut Cookies

Rating: Unrated
3
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.

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.

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!

Double-Chocolate Biscotti

Rating: Unrated
2
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.

Strawberry Bruschetta

Rating: Unrated
2
Astoundingly good for minimal effort, this makes an indulgent weekend breakfast or anyday dessert. A judicious smear of mascarpone (half the fat of butter) is part of the luxury, but even lighter low-fat cream cheese will work as well. The real secret is warming the berries just enough to make the flavor bloom and transform their juices into a rosy syrup.

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.

Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti

Rating: Unrated
3
These amazing olive oil biscotti are studded with rich, buttery-tasting pine nuts. Try them alongside fruit sorbet, cheese or summer peaches.

Mango Tiramisù

This healthy take on a classic Italian dessert is far from traditional, thanks to ripe mangoes, agave syrup, and a creamy yogurt filling.

Lemon & Polenta Tart with Figs

Rating: Unrated
1
For this celebratory tart recipe, a smooth, creamy, lemon-scented Greek yogurt filling, adorned with a ring of dried figs, is layered on a bed of honey-sweetened polenta. Real, Italian-style polenta is made from medium- or coarse-ground whole-grain cornmeal. Products labeled polenta, medium-ground cornmeal and corn grits (not instant) can be used interchangeably in this recipe

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.

Marinated Strawberries

Strawberries are marinated in a sweet balsamic vinegar and mint sauce to make a perfectly refreshing topper for frozen yogurt.

Inspiration and Ideas

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.

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.

Almond Cannoli with Lemon-Basil Ricotta Cream Filling

Homemade cannoli shells are filled with a creamy lemon and ricotta cheese filling with a hint of fresh basil for a gourmet dessert. For a shortcut, you can substitute purchased cannoli shells (8 full-size or 16 mini).