Venice was basking in the sun last weekend, just in time for Easter. You could definitely eat breakfast outside on my favorite campo in the neighborhood, Campo della Bragora in Castello. I love the spring morning light flooding this wide campo and its oleander bushes that will soon be covered with white vanilla-scented blossoms.
My favorite pastry store in our neighborhood, Pasticceria alla Bragora, is perfect to enjoy the sunlight in spring and for breakfast, you could try the best cornetto in the world.
A Venetian cornetto is a mixture of brioche and croissant, or rather, a very soft and buttery croissant. Below you can see a cornetto alle mandorle with almond cream filling (crema alle mandorle), covered with almond flakes and powder sugar which sinks in and almost looks and tastes like frosting, surprisingly crispy and soft at the same time.
Venetians have loved almond cakes, everything almond, since times immemorial. The oldest cake recipe using almonds and pinoli (pine nuts) we know of goes back to the 12th century. The secret of Venetian almond cakes is that mandorle amare (tiny amounts of bitter almonds which do not taste bitter at all if used in the right way and very sparingly) confer that amaretto taste we love so much to the dough and/or the cream filling. Often, the almond filling contains a spoonful of apricot or any other seasonal jam which makes it taste just delicious.
Venetians love their cornetti glassati, frosted cornetti, and above you can see that they are sprinkled with almond flakes before baking. Still hot, fresh out of the oven, the cornetti are covered with powder sugar, so they look like they’re wearing a coat of white icing.
The other cookies you can see in the cover image are biscotteria mignon which is miniature Easter & spring cookies. Many cookies include ground almonds in their dough or frosting, and often they are flavored with apricot and cherry jam, cocoa and coffee filling. These are all made at Pasticceria alla Bragora’s. The “almond fingers” covered with coarse sugar are so soft inside and outside, a treat to take home for tea :-)
Of course, the festive Easter cakes are everywhere in the windows of the Venetian pastry stores, arranged next to oversized chocolate eggs. We will show you more Easter cakes and eggs here on the blog in time for Easter Sunday, stay tuned !