A Virtual Taste of Naples

Naples is a beautiful city, or so I’ve heard. I actually haven’t had the chance to see the beauty in person since arriving during lockdown, but that still doesn’t mean we can’t learn and experience this new city, right?! These days anything can be done virtually! Locals say there is a period in which Naples becomes even more colorful and magical, if that’s possible, and it’s during Christmas. Neapolitans are very attached to their traditions and, above all at Christmas, they can’t do without some recipes, objects, and rituals. Today I joined the USO for their virtual “Snack-N-Chat Christmas Edition” where we got to taste test some traditional Neapolitan holiday desserts.


Here is a quick glance of some sample bites of the most popular Neapolitan desserts.


Struffoli are small balls of fried dough, covered with honey and served with candied fruits and candies. They are eaten on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Pieces with honey tasted very sweet and those without were dry. But once mixed together, it was quite the sticky treat! When there isn’t so much honey present, there is a strong taste of anise (much like black licorice) that lingers. The little sprinkles and candies add a nice crunch. 


A traditional Italian sweet bread, most popular around Christmas and New Year. This is typical of northern Italy but eaten all over the boot! Pandoro is traditionally shaped like a frustum with an eight-point star section. It is often served dusted with vanilla-scented icing sugar made to resemble the snowy peaks of the Italian Alps during Christmas. It was also recommended to try it heated for a few seconds or with Nutella! Pandoro is said to bring good luck if eaten with champagne on New Years Eve. This buttery bread has a very soft and fluffy texture. And for something that looks so plain, it was actually quite enjoyable! 


The Neopolitan Roccocò is one of the most classic sweets and typical of Neapolitan tradition during the Christmas period. It is shaped like a round bun, baked and stuffed with almonds, and made from various spices such as cinnamon and cloves, giving it a very unique flavor. This was one of my two favorites out of all the desserts. It appears to be hard crusted, but it actually has a soft texture much like a cookie. The spices are fragrant (reminding me of Chai) and there is a strange aftertaste of orange. 


The other of my two favorites. The Neapolitan Mustacciouli are strictly prepared with must (from grapes) and glazed with chocolate. Mostacciouli, with their traditional rhombus shape, are particularly loved by children because the recipe combines honey and chocolate. These have a lot of depth to them. I think the light layer of chocolate on the outside really completes the dessert. The inside is soft, yet somewhat crumbly. 


A delicate icing hides a delicious surprise: small, soft snacks with a wealth of almonds, walnuts, and hazlenuts. Sometimes coated with dark chocolates, others with pistachio or white chocolate. These sweet, bite-sized candies must be on the table after dinners and lunches around Christmas. It is often enjoyed with dried figs and dates or with mandarins. If any are left after the holidays, they can be used as an ingredient in many desserts like semifreddos, cheesecake, or Charlottes. The ones placed in my bag were a vanilla and a hazelnut chocolate flavor. While the outside was coated in chocolate and the inside had a merengue-like whip with almonds, I would have to say that this sweet wasn’t one I’d eat again if I had a choice. Nevertheless it was good. 


Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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