The Italian tradition as Easter desserts boasts numerous variations depending on the region or even on the province, these may take different forms or names, but the basic ingredients are mostly the same.
The “national” Easter desserts are the dove and the chocolate egg. The image of the dove has always been used to symbolize peace and salvation, and in the Christian religion the figure of Christ. Its ingredients are the same as Panettone: flour, butter, eggs, sugar and candied orange peel, the only difference is its rich almond frosting. The Christian religion resumed the symbolism of the egg to represent Easter: the hard-shelled egg recalls the tomb, where Jesus was buried, while the new life contained within represents his resurrection.
The tradition of eggs exchange has its roots in the past and not only in Italy. During the Middle Ages, in fact, they gave away eggs decorated with drawings and writings. The boiled the eggs with flowers and leaves in order to give them some particular colouring, while for the nobles they were created in precious materials, such as gold, platinum or silver. Perhaps from this Peter Carl Fabergé took inspiration to create, in 1883 for the Tsarina Maria, an enamelled platinum egg containing another golden and two gifts inside it. Since the last century is widespread the distribution of chocolate eggs with surprises inside them. In the Greek-Orthodox and Balcanic tradition eggs are boiled and decorated, mostly red, the colour of Passion.
Let’s talk about the regional variations, among the most famous, also all over the world, there are the Pastiera and the Casatiello, typical of the Neapolitan tradition. The first, the legend tells, was linked to the cult of the goddess Ceres, whose priestesses carried in procession an egg, symbol of the rebirth. This could explain the presence of wheat inside this mixture, in addition to ricotta cheese, eggs and flavourings. The second can be both sweet and salty, with cheese, salami and eggs, but also lard and crackling. Its name derives from its main ingredient: cheese, in Neapolitan cas’ from here comes the name casatiello. Its round shape recalls the cyclic aspect of the Eastern resurrection, while the eggs that come out of the dough and restrained by strips of bread represent the cross on which Jesus died.
The Crescia or Piazza or Torta di Pasqua (Eastern Pie) is a savoury pie typical of Central Italy, based on flour, eggs, pecorino cheese, Parmesan cheese, consumed during breakfast or lunch on Easter Day. accompanied by typical products of the various territories. The 40 provided in the dough represent the 40 days of Lent. Tradition dictates that the dough should be prepared on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, so can be eaten on Easter Day.
The Cudduraci are typical of the province of Reggio Calabria, but spread throughout Southern Italy (Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata and Apulia). They are biscuits made of short pastry decorated with boiled eggs. Its name derives from the Greek kollura, which means crown, due to its round shape. The shepherds carried some in their movements and thanks to its shape they could put it comfortably in their stick or arm. During the Easter period cudduraci are prepared in all houses. The most popular subjects are fish, crown and hearts, made by girlfriends for their lovers.
The Easter Lamb is the typical dessert of Sicily, Calabria and Apulia. The base of the dough is marzipan (prepared with chopped almonds, water and sugar), to which pistachio paste and/or chocolate is added.