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A WORLD OF GOURMET ITALIAN SWEETS ONLINE


 
If you’re looking for tasty snacks made with high-quality raw materials, or Italian sweets online, then welcome to Italy Bite: a world of pure temptation. 
 
Our aim is to make Italian food excellencemore easily available online, and our e-store certainly couldn’t miss out on having a section entirely dedicated to gourmet treats from every region of Italy, treats that we have personally selected, much to the delight of our tastebuds.
 
In our personal selection of Italian sweets online, you will find both classic confectionery products and innovative creations which experiment and play with flavours, the result of research and craftsmanship. In fact, all sweets, biscuits and chocolate products sold by Italy Bite are created in artisanal workshops, where bakers, master chocolatiers and patissiers infuse their creations with true, heartfelt passion for good food.
 
They tease the palate in a curious journey through the most sinful of treats. Torrone di Cremona, the best in Italy – because who says that you can only eat it at Christmas? – the crunchiest, crumbliest cantuccini, intense amaretti and chocolate in its finest forms are just some of the pleasant temptations that you can buy on Italy Bite.
 
The selection is so vast because the Italian confectionery tradition boasts a great many delicacies: cakes, sweets and biscuits that are just like cherries... one always leads to another. And when these treats are made with fresh, delicious raw materials, they’re truly impossible to resist.

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  • Nougat

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  • Chocolate

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  • Panettone and leavened products

    Panettone and leavened products

    Panettone is much more than a Christmas cake: it is the symbol of Italian Christmas. It has an amazing evocative power and, when it is truly delicious, it is able to rewind time and recall good memories and family traditions. But how can we pick the good ones? What makes a Panettone good? One word: handcraft.

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    How is artisan Panettone made

    Panettone belongs to the family of leavened foods. They are neither easy nor quick to make, quite the contrary: a certain amount of experience, manual skills and an expert eye are required to understand all the steps that leavening entails.

    In order to make it the right way, we need sourdough. And this is an entirely new topic to discover. Sourdough is alive and must be fed and nurtured. Successful baking a Panettone depends on it.

    Since it is a cake with two doughs, sourdough is firstly mixed with flour and water, then sugar, butter and yolks are added little by little. It may seem easy, but it is not. If the dough does not form a proper gluten network, it’s not going to properly absorb the butter and eggs and ingredients will not bind.

    If, on the contrary, everything goes well, the dough is going to leaven for the first time. It should be kept in a warm place for at least 12 hours and should triple in size.

    Then, we are back at it again: we add the remaining flour, water, yolks, sugar and butter. Once the ingredients have bound, we also add honey, raisins, candied orange dices, citron, lemon zest, orange zest and a pinch of salt.

    The dough is then shaped into a loaf and it is put into a special mould. The second leavening lasts for around 7 hours, then the dough is cooked.

    Once the loaf is out of the oven, it is left to cool down upside down for at least 12 hours. This helps stabilising the ingredients and creating an absolutely unique flavour mix for which this exceptional sweet bread is known. 

    Choosing the ingredients

    The first rule of a handmade Panettone is only prime-quality ingredients, no compromises or shortcuts. This means that the ingredient list of a truly handcrafted Panettone should never include mixtures, semi-finished products, replacements or substitutes for the sourdough. No cheating here. Either they use sourdough or we are not interested in their product.

    Mono- and diglycerides, preservatives, emulsifiers, additives and synthetic flavourings are also forbidden. There shouldn’t be anything to hide if they only use the best raw materials.

    No clarified butter, a centrifuged butter where caseins are removed, which is very easy to preserve and to handle; no margarine (are you crazy?!), no powdered eggsOnly natural ingredients: fresh eggs, fresh butter, flour, candied fruit, honey, sugar, water, sourdough and that’s it.

    Pay attention to candied fruit; if the pieces all look exactly the same, there is something weird going on. Handmade candied fruit is not mass-produced, but rather cut by hand and, as such, it should look irregular. You should also be able to see the candied fruit and raisins straight away, which should be scattered all around the surface of the slice. And there should be a lot of them. Never mind if some people don’t like them – that’s how traditional Panettone is made; take it or leave it. 

    We at Italy Bite went the extra mile. For our assortment, we picked Opera Waiting, a very creative and genuine confectionery. To make this Panettone, they only use extremely fresh and organic ingredients which make for a one-of-a-kind flavour.

    Texture and moisture: Panettone should be stretchy

    Handcrafted Panettone has an amber and golden colour on the outside and a bright yellow colour on the inside thanks to the eggs and, more importantly, it should never have the same consistency as bread. It shouldn’t crumble upon cutting and it should almost be melting when you bite into it. When the product is made to state-of-the-art standards with the right ingredient ratio and most of all a well-managed leavening, Panettone should have a stretchy consistency.

    As far as moisture is concerned, the dough should neither be too dry nor too moist. When a Panettone is too heavy, it may be in part due to underbaking, but it mainly means that the yeast was not strong enough to make the dough rise. It’s no easy feat! 

    Natural leavening

    That’s the most important step. Natural leavening affects the quality of the end product and it is the trickiest step that changes both consistency and taste. Remember that sourdough starter is actually alive, since it contains yeasts and bacteria proliferating.

    No two sourdough starters are the same, because the microflora they contain changes according to the flour, water and environment. Even climate conditions can greatly affect rising.

    Being able to manage a natural leavening is an art and making high-rising, soft and stretchy handcrafted Panettone is extremely hard. The leavening specialist must continuously check the health of the sourdough starter, adding a pinch of flour or a drop of water and changing the room temperature if needed. The proof of success lies in the alveolar structure or porosity.

    The secrets for a perfect alveolar structure

    One look at Panettone is enough to understand if the natural leavening has worked or not. Take a look at the alveolar structure or porosity; it shouldn’t be too dense, like you would see in sandwich bread - and that’s often the case of factory-made Panettone – but it shouldn’t be too loose either.

    It should ideally have inconsistent pores that are elongated and irregular and scattered in a rather vertical manner. Upon cutting, you should notice that the yeast wanted to rise. If the dough is kneaded too long, the pores will look flat, if it’s kneaded too little, it will probably break while it bakes.

    Another thing: yeast does not work properly if it’s cold, hot, hungry, thirsty or tired. Perhaps now we realise how hard it is to make perfectly leavened, handcrafted Panettone with a perfect alveolar structure and an incredible flavour.

    History

    It originated in Milan and we all agree on that. Some doubts were raised concerning how and when it originated, though. The story of Panettone is shrouded in a metaphorical and literal fog.

    As far as the origin of this incredible cake is concerned, there are mainly two schools of thought.

    The first school of thought is made of romantic people that affirm that Panettone was invented by a young man in love to win a girl over. Lord Ulivo degli Atellani, a falconer from Milan, fell head over heels for Adalgisa, the daughter of the baker. He decided to start working as an apprentice in her father’s bakery and wanted to bake something unforgettable that would win the hearts of father and daughter alike.

    Flour, eggs, honey, sugar, butter, candied fruits, sultanas and, the main ingredient, a leavened dough. Adalgisa fell in love with Panettone and, to some extent, with Ulivo, too, and they ended up getting married.

    However, there is a second story circulating around, about a hall boy saving the day of Ludovico Sforza’s cook. But let’s go in order.

    The story is still set in Milan, at Ludovico Sforza’s court, somewhere between 1480 and 1499. It was Christmas and there was a feast happening at the Sforza Castle. The cook burned the cake and was, rightly so, devastated. The hall boy Toni came to the rescue and slightly improvising, he mixed sugar, eggs, candied fruits and raisins with leavened bread that he had found in the kitchen.

    That might be the real story, since the name “Pan di Toni” (Toni’s bread) could have turned into “Panettone” over time.

    Regardless of the story, artisan Panettone is now a part of Milan’s DNA. Alessandro Manzoni, a great Italian writer, loved it very much; a trusted baker would deliver Panettone to his house every year to thank him for having put the name of his bakery in his masterpiece “The Betrothed”.

    We have talked about Christmas, but let’s not forget Saint Blaise. The legend narrates that Saint Blaise saved the life of a child that was choking on a fish bone; he, hence, became patron saint of the throat. On the 3rd of February, the day dedicated to this saint, people from Milan eat blessed Panettone as a protection against throat ailments.

    We could say that it is an almost miraculous cake. But let’s unveil the secret behind its deliciousness. 

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  • Panforte

    Panforte from Siena

    PGI Panforte from Siena is a Christmas dessert made from almonds, candied fruits, honey and spices. Panforte is a must at Christmas time, but why not enjoying its soft and scented dough all year round?

    Traditionally, Panforte was a product for rich people, since its ingredients were very costly. That explains why it was only eaten during the festivities. However, Panforte is delicious all the time, and it can also be used to enrich many dishes. Let’s take a look at this confection and its ancient history.

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    White or black Panforte?

    Let’s make one thing clear straight away: the first Panforte - the original and classic Panforte - is the black one. However, Panforte Margherita, also called white Panforte because it is coated with a generous layer of powdered sugar, is the most common version, and when we say “Panforte”, we immediately think of this one. Apart from the coating, which is bitter cocoa for the black version and powdered sugar for the white one, another difference between the two versions lies in the candied fruits that are added to the dough. Candied melon is added to the black Panforte, whereas candied citron is added to the white one.

    Galgano Parenti probably reckoned that candied citron had a more refined flavour, which was more suited to a cake that was dedicated to a queen. Otherwise, almonds, honey, candied orange, mixed spices, sugar and flour are used in the two versions and the shell is made by a very thin layer of starch wafer.

    The other two Panforte types are “Panforte delle Dame” and “Panforte fiorito”. The first one is the Panforte that Giovanni Parenti invented in 1820 and it is still very much appreciated today. Peeled almonds are added to the dough, as well as candied melon and orange. A dark chocolate glaze coats this confection, making it similar to a Sacher cake, by which it was allegedly inspired.

    Panforte Fiorito” is more or less like a Panforte Margherita (it also contains candied citron, instead of candied melon), but with one additional sweet twist: almond paste. The layer of almond paste makes the confection softer and the aroma of almonds stands out over the aroma of candied fruits.

    The flavour of this cake reflects the skills, respect of the territory and authenticity of the main ingredients. Especially when the quality is nothing short of excellent, as is the case here, we should stop considering Panforte as a mere Christmas dessert and start eating it all year round.

    Thanks to honey and dried fruits, it is a healthy and readily available source of energy. Panforte is a “convenient” cake, too, since it is not easily perishable. If you give it as gift, you’ll make a good impression for sure, but if you eat it yourselves, you will be even happier. It is a confection that really deserves more appreciation.

    History

    History of Panforte

    In order to understand the history of Panforte, we first must explain how important its geographical location was. Siena, as we already mentioned, was crossed by the Francigena route which was taken by pilgrims going to Rome, and by merchants from all over Europe.

    Amongst the finest and most expensive trading goods, there was pepper, imported from the East. Starting from the 13th century, pepper was used in Siena, together with dried and candied fruits, spices, honey and flour, to make Panpepato which is the ancestor of Panforte.

    Panpepato was a cake exclusive to the nobles and clergy and its recipe was jealously guarded by the “Arte dei Medici e Speziali”, Siena’s guild of physician and spice sellers. It was marketed around the monasteries and the spice markets and was usually served at the end of banquets to rich people.

    It was also in Siena that people used to make confections from fruits - especially plums, figs and grape - and lots of honey since the dawn of time. This confection used to be known as Panis Fortis -sour bread -, because fruit would turn sour if the cake wasn’t eaten quickly enough. As we already said, in the 13th century, spices landed in Siena. Pepper, but also cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg were then added to the traditional Panis Fortis cake.

    The most traditional and common cakes became delicious confections for rich people. Today’s Panforte was born out of a mixture between commoner Panis Fortis and fine Panpepato; honey, candied and dried fruits are still the main elements, to which pepper and mixed spices are added. This confection has ancient roots: it was born as a cake for peasants and then succumbed to the charm of Eastern spices. That’s how the best things are made: mixing and combining different things.

    Building a road leads to people passing by and people passing by leads to meeting other people, goods or ideas; things will never be the same. Panforte from Siena results from many histories, different aromas, local flavours and flavours from afar.

    Panforte marked the history of the city with the Montaperti battle in 1260. The Guelph faction from Florence and the Ghibelline faction from Siena battled each other here; Siena won and conquered Montepulciano and Montalcino back. The legend says that the two armies were left exhausted: Florentine soldiers only had scarce and non-nutritious provisions, whereas soldiers from Siena had a rich dough made from honey and dried and candied fruits, which was pretty popular at the time. Fuelled with energy (and heat), they managed to win against the unlucky soldiers from Florence thanks to Panforte.

    Another date worth remembering is 1879. On the occasion of the Palio di Siena horserace, the Queen Margherita and the King Umberto I of Italy came to town. The spice seller Galgano Parenti, who at the time owned the oldest factory of Panforte from Siena, decided to update the recipe to celebrate the presence of the Queen. That’s how the first Panforte Margherita came to be: it’s white, since it is coated with powdered sugar, whereas Panforte had always been black up to that point, since it was usually covered with spices or bitter cocoa.

    In 1820 Giovanni Parenti, the father of Galgano and founder of the “Panforte Parenti” factory, had already invented the chocolate Panforte, dedicated to dames - it was a family of Panforte devotees, to say the least! The creation of the Panforte Margherita recipe marks a decisive moment, as this version became the most commonly available on the market. Later on we will take a look at the differences between the Panforte types, of which there are two officially recognized variations as well as at least two other types.

    Another year to remember is 2013, when Panforte from Siena obtained the Protected Geographical Indication label, proving how the features of high-quality, real Panforte depend on its location. The inspection body checks whether the rules written in the product descriptions are respected. Let’s take a look at which ingredients are essential and how many versions of Panforte there are.

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  • Handmade biscuits

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