I have a big sweet tooth but I don’t really care for most pastries found in a pastry shop. I shy away from Danish pastries, cream puffs, and pies, too. I pasticcini (little pastries or petit four) Italian pastry shops are famous for, and are present at almost every birthday, office party or other event are not really my cup of tea. I love the packages they come in – beautiful colored wrapping paper with the bakery’s logo and tied up with matching ribbon, and I ooh and aah as it’s opened, but then I step discreetly away to refill my prosecco glass (because that’s always present at an office party in Italy, too).
When I’m pressed to choose something, I rejoice when I find a little bignet filled with panna, whipped cream, instead of the crema pasticcera, the pastry chef’s cream, which is made with flour, egg yolks and milk. I feel lucky when I find its little white bulbous head tucked in between tiny fruit tarts covered in a gelatin glaze, little cannoli or cream puffs filled with all flavors of crema pasticcera like chocolate or pistachio, or in between pasta frolla tarts or little rolled canoncino.
So it’s no surprise that I should be instantly drawn to its bigger (and better-looking) brother, il maritozzo.
A maritozzo is essentially a sweet roll (made with eggs and yeast) cut open and filled to the brim with panna, fresh whipped cream. This sweet is from the Lazio region, and can be found in Rome, which is why last weekend when I was there, I shunned the traditional cornetto (croissant) for breakfast and went straight into the arms of my better-tasting lover, the maritozzo. The traditional maritozzo‘s bread is a little more complicated and has raisins, pine nuts, and candied fruits all baked in (similar to a panettone, but not in consistency) but I think many bars are offering a simpler and, in my opinion, more desirable plain sweet roll so it’s just about the panna.
Die-hards can pick up the maritozzo and dig right in with a big bite – but better have napkins nearby and open wide because it’s definitely a mouthful. If you’re not feeling up to it, or if you would like a few mouthfuls of just panna on their own (like me), grab the spoon from your coffee or marocchino and scoop out a few spoonfuls until the panino looks more manageable.