With the winter season fast approaching and Great British Bake Off taking over our screens, here are a couple of Christmas sweet treat recipe ideas from Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa.

mcith_panttone.jpgTraditional Italian Christmas treats, Panettone and Befanini, from Renaissance Tuscany head chef, Alessandro Manfredini.

The popular sweet bread loaf, Panettone, is originally from Milan and is known for being enjoyed around the Christmas and New Year period – now worldwide.

The lesser known Italian export cookies, named Befanini, were born in Tuscany. Named after an Italian witch, Befana, the cookies are left out in the evening of 5th January in tribute.

The elaborate workmanship and the imaginative shapes makes the cookies real masterpieces and are served in bakeries during the festivities.

Renaissance Tuscany

Situated off the beaten track and nestled into the hillside amongst an expansive two-mile estate, Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa has sweeping views of the Tuscan countryside that can be enjoyed from the vast outdoor pool that overlooks the valley.

In Italy, it’s a fact that you’ll never go hungry, and this certainly rings true at Renaissance Tuscany. The two on property restaurants offer an authentic taste of Tuscany created and served by locals who are passionate about the region’s gastronomic offering.

Home made Renaissance Tuscany Panettone

Ingredients for the first dough:

330 gr. di farina tipo 00                                 

330 gr. of “00” flour

230 gr. Tuorli

230 gr. Egg yolks

200 gr. Farina Manitoba

200 gr. Manitoba flour

450 gr. Lievito madre

450 gr. Yeast

500 gr. Acqua 28 °C

500 gr. 28 °C Water

300 gr. Burro montato

300 gr. Whipped butter


1.     Mix all the ingredients, excluding the butter, for about 15 minutes

2.     Combine the whipped butter and mix again for 5 minutes

3.     Remove the dough and put it in the proofing chamber for 2/3 hour; turn off the proofing chamber and let the dough rise for another 8/9 hours.

Ingredients for the second dough:

330 gr. di farina tipo 00                                 

330 gr. of “00” flour

230 gr. Tuorli freddi

230 gr. Egg yolks

200 gr. Farina Manitoba

200 gr. Manitoba flour

310 gr. Zucchero

310 gr. Sugar

250 gr. Acqua fredda 15 °C

250 gr. 15 °C Cold water

300 gr. Burro pomata

300 gr. Butter cream

700 gr. Uva sultanina

700 gr. Sultana raisin

250 gr. Cubetti arancia candita

250 gr. Candied orange

250 gr. Cubetti cedro candito

250 gr. Candied cedar

10 gr. Sale

10 gr. Salt

2 Stecche di vaniglia

2 Vanilla stick

Ingredienti per la massa aromatica:

Ingredients for the aromatic mass:

80 gr. Cubetti arancia candita                      

80 gr. Candied orange

30 gr. Miele

30 gr. Honey

30 gr. Scorza di limone

30 gr. Lemon rind

15 gr. Acqua

15 gr. Water

15 gr. Zucchero

15 gr. Sugar

30 gr. Cubetti cedro candito

30 gr. Candied cedar


1.     Mix all the ingredients together with the first mixture (excluding butter and half of the water) for 7 minutes

2.     Then add the aromatic mass and mix for another 12 minutes

3.     Within half an hour spray the other half of the water, mix for another 5 minutes and gradually add the butter cream

4.     Lastly add the candied fruit and the sultana raisins

5.     Place the dough on the work table and proceed with the weighing of the pieces

6.     Roll the pieces and pass in the proofing chamber at 28 ° C for about an hour, then remove the pieces of dough and place them in the baking molds

7.     Pass them again in the proofing chamber for about 6/7 hours

8.     When they are leavened remove them from the proofing chamber and let stand for about an hour at room temperature

9.     Use a knife to make a cross-cut on the top of the dough and put it in the oven at 220 ° C for about 60 minutes.

Chestnut butter cream

Ingredients for the chestnut butter cream:

500 gr. Burro morbido

500 gr. Soft butter

300 gr. Marron glacé

300 gr. Marron glacé

500 gr. Crema pasticcera

500 gr. Custard cream

Leone 70 Q.b.

Leone 70 (Typical liquor) Q.b.


1.     Whip the soft butter with the custard cream

2.     Add the chopped Marron glacé and then the Rum

3.     Cut Panettone into slices and stuff it with the cream

4.     Once reassembled, glaze it with the dark chocolate.

Befanini in Barga

mcith_befanini.jpgIngredients for “Frolla” pastry:

500g white flour

350g sugar

100g butter

50g lard

3 eggs

½ tea spoon of baking powder

Preparation of pastry

1.     Place the flour on the work surface as a volcano

2.     Add sugar, butter gently softened, lard and a pinch of salt

3.     Add eggs and knead to a smooth dough

4.     Let rest in the refrigerator wrapped in a cloth for 2/3 hours

Ingredients for marzipan for 1kg of biscuits:

300g peeled almonds

100g egg whites

150g icing sugar

½ coffee cup of alchermes and sassolion anise liqueur

Preparation of marzipan

1.     Finely chip the almonds with the sugar

2.     Add the egg whites lightly beaten

3.     Complete with alchermes and sassolion

Preparation of Befanini

1.     Roll out the dough to obtain a thin layer of 4/5mm

2.     Cut with pastry rings in different shapes

3.     Place the centre of the cookie some marzipan

4.     Create a small flower with cut-outs of the pastry

5.     Heat the oven to 160 degrees and bake befanini for 10-12 minutes

6.     Allow to cool and garnish with icing sugar