5 sweet treats from Tuscany

Satisfy your sugar cravings with Tuscany’s unique produce

Amelia Éclectique
June 9, 2018 - 16:47

Pici pasta and Sangiovese may have captivated global gourmands, but Tuscany’s lesser-known culinary offerings, crafted with home-grown, flora-filled ingredients, cater to even the sweetest of appetites.

 

 

1. Smells like roses

 

 

 

Before sampling this treat for the tastebuds at Dolce e Dolcezze, the concept of rose jam seemed only existent in evocative fairytales. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Isabella Devetta of Rosa di Magliano, whose 400 rose plants, cultivated under the Rosa di Magliano brand, embellish verdant hills surrounding Florence, this confection makes for a unique addition to pantry cupboards. The imaginative Ligurian started growing her rose garden 18 years ago, inspired by her native region’s tradition of concocting rose syrups at home. Spurred on by the memory of her grandmother brewing sciroppo di rosa, she perfected her own recipe, with years of experimentation leading her to create this signature marmalade.

 

Best enjoyed

Slathered on breakfast toast or a teatime scone, though Devetta also suggests adding it to cheeseboards (think salty pecorino and soft caprino).

 

 

2. Dark as sin

 

 

 

For those who prefer their cocoa intake densely concentrated, rejoice. This all-consuming dark chocolate cake is not for the faint of heart. The prized creation of Claudio Pistocchi in 1990, Torta Pistocchi® has clocked up over 30 years of uninterrupted acclaim, with production helmed by Claudio and his sister Claudia. Their move to trademark was prompted by a multitude of imitators, none of which could hope to match Pistocchi’s treasured recipe. The cake’s sumptuous consistency is achieved without sugar, flour, butter or eggs, letting the luscious combo of dark chocolate, cream and unsweetened cocoa powder speak for itself.

 

Best enjoyed

As a moreish addition to dinner-party dessert trolleys.

 

 

3. Fit for a king (well, a grand duke)

 

 

 

While the Vestri chocolatiers have origins in Arezzo, their family company’s Florentine offshoot is well established. Overseen by second-generation cognoscente Leonardo, its handmade chocolates are conjured up in a variety of flavours, none of which have quite as particular a history as Cioccolato del Granduca. As the story goes, Cosimo III de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of seventeenth-century Tuscany, delighted in the jasmine flowers flourishing in the Boboli Gardens. His love for them was such that Cosimo’s personal medic, Francesco Redi, devised a special drinking chocolate imbued with jasmine, pairing the unique flora with amber, vanilla and cinnamon. After four centuries under lock and key, Danielo Vestri revived the recipe to eager reception, encasing each fragrant chocolate slab in reminiscent packaging.

 

Best enjoyed

As a post-supper indulgence.

 

 

4. Good as gold

 

 

 

The “red heart of the Val d’Orcia”, a UNESCO World Heritage site between San Quirico d’Orcia and Montalcino, Pura Crocus has breathed new, necessary life into Tuscany’s saffron-growing heritage. The latter commenced in medieval times and halted in the last century or so, giving this minute firm a prime opportunity to regenerate production. Precision is at the core of the company’s ethos: humidity, brightness and temperature regulation is paramount throughout harvesting, while the main body of work is carried out by hand in accordance with ancient teachings. The finished product is sold as powder or stigmas, ensuring the saffron’s purity. With an approach of such high calibre, it’s little wonder how their specially-concocted saffron honey—amber-hued with vivid flecks of red—is so flavour-bursting.

 

Best enjoyed

Drizzled over sweet and savoury dishes, though it melds especially well with natural yoghurt and (once more) a medley of cheeses.

 

 

5. Flower power

 

photo taken from www.divinacucina.com

 

 

With a legacy nearing centenary celebrations, this forward-thinking, multi-generational bakery strikes the perfect balance between tradition and innovation. Having recently added vegan, organic, cholesterol- and gluten-free additions to its extensive repertoire, Pasticceria Gualtieri’s original cakes remain solid favourites of its captive consumers. Perhaps most distinctive of them all is the cherished Iris Cake, which takes its starring ingredient from Florence’s Giardino dell’Iris, a vibrant garden accessed from the eastern balcony of piazzale Michelangelo boasting a staggering 1,500 varieties of irises, several of which are at risk of extinction.

 

Best enjoyed

Any time you like, but ideally during the spring.

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