Christmas is finally here and it wouldn't be the festive season without one very important element.
The traditional Italian panettone is now so popular in the UK that it has become a staple part of our British Christmas celebrations.
Whether you devour it with a coffee at breakfast or after dinner, the fragrant fluffy cake is just the thing to satisfy sweet cravings and is perfect for anyone who finds Christmas pudding too sickly.
Whilst panettone is traditionally made with dried or candied fruits, there are now many other variations available that replace fruit with chocolate or even booze.
Best of all, they come beautifully packaged so you can keep one or two stashed away for last-minute Christmas guests or gifts.
Marco Seminaroti, Regional Director of Gruppo Montenegro (one of the leading Italian Spirits and Food manufacturer) shares his seasonal rules surrounding the treat and how essential it is in the country’s Christmas traditions.
You only have panettone at Christmas, and there is no Christmas without panettone in Italy.
Every family enjoys at the end of (very long) Christmas meal. In Italy, you somehow end up spending at least 3-4 full days around the table.
Together with Panettone another classic is Pandoro, which is more plain without candid fruit and mostly for kids.
Christmas is spent with your entire family (it’s not unusual to have 20-30 people) in what feels like a food marathon. When the many courses finish, it’s time for dessert...and there’s always room for panettone.
Panettone/Pandoro is always served, normally with coffee and digestive / liquor. It’s very common to have Vecchia Romagna Etichetta Nera (Italy’s no.1 brandy) or a digestive such as Amaro Montenegro (very popular in Italy). Most families would have them in their cabinet and it’s a central element of socialising and to help digestion.
That is the time when cards games are taken out and everyone starts playing for hours, all while still eating and drinking (it never stops). Everyone plays the likes of Tombola or Mercante in fiera, but sooner or later smaller tables break out usually divided in age groups.
In Italian football when the manager does a poor job and the team does not perform, it is said that the “manager is not going to eat the panettone” - meaning is going to be fired before Christmas.
There are certain comedy films out in theatre at Christmas referred to as Cinepanettone.
Here are our favourite panettones for Christmas 2022.
Chiostro di Saronno Tiramisu Panettone
This Christmas, your taste buds are in for a treat. Chiostro di Saronno is offering a tiramisu panettone filled with a decadent interior that pairs beautifully with post-meal cuppa. This is centred around the traditional exterior with candied fruit as well as chocolate chips and served up in a gift-ready box. There’s also Classic, Chocolate Orange, Chocolate, Salted Caramel and even a Pistachio variation.
Carluccio’s Panettoneâ Milano
When it comes to traditional treats, you can’t beat the totally moreish food from one of London’s most famous Italian restaurant chains. Made in Milan, this panettone follows a classic recipe and features an abundance of candied peel and sultanas with a natural vanilla flavour. Carluccio's extensive offering extends to a cappuccino, limoncello, cioccolato, cherry, spritz as well as a vegan and gluten-free variation. Honourable mention goes to the new and exclusive Crema al Malfy Gin all’Arancia Rossa with a blood orange gin from Sicilian blood oranges in the centre.
Piselli Classic Panettone 100g
The Italian master bakers at Piselli have packed its traditional panettone with sultanas and candied orange peels. This zesty version is easily the sweetest on our list. Beautifully wrapped, the soft and springy sponge is best paired with ice cream for the perfect festive after-dinner treat. You can also get it with a Cocoa & Chocolate Chip Panettone.
Fortnum & Mason's Panettone
For luxury lovers, Fortnum & Mason is offering two panettones. A traditional - proved for over 48 hours with a sourdough base and a three chocolate alternative. The latter has been handmade and given an extra sweet treat twist with white and dark Valrhona chocolate. We’d enjoy this one best with a strong midday cuppa.
Waitrose Christmas Fruited Panettone
Waitrose may just have the most extensive flavour varieties of panettone we've seen to date with chocolate, fruited, chestnut & pear, apricot & peach bellini and a gluten free variation. There’s lots to love about the indulgent Fruited Panettone, which is made from a traditional Italian recipe. In an attractive festive red box, it is rich in butter and embellished with sultanas and candied orange. Bellissimo!
Authentic Panettone in Tin (Original)
For all the Christmas feels, this panettone is a classic. It’s comes in the perfect size for sharing with friends or family – but surely won’t be around for long. The authentic packaging is also a plus.
Harvey Nichols Panettone
The luxury department store has knocked it out the park this year with four variations of panettone, each as decadent as the last. There's the chocolate & Amaretti, cranberry & orange, little and large - and they're nothing short of exceptional.
Selfridges Selection Salted Caramel Panettone
This tasty panettone will go down a treat with everyone’s favourite salted caramel goodness. Oozing with a combination of sweet and salty, it handmade by the Filippi family in Northern Italy putting a contemporary twist on the classic recipe. This is a decadent dessert in the lead up to the Christmas period enjoyed as is or toasted with butter. For traditionalists, opt instead for the Italian Traditional Panettone.
Harrods Classic Panettone
Another good luxury option, this Harrods panettone comes packaged in a chic gift box. The dough is sweet and buttery after 36-hours of proving, while the raisins are big and juicy and surrounded by generous shreds of zesty candied orange.