Nothing says Christmas more than panettone. This world-renowned Italian sweet bread originated in Milan in the 15th century. 

It’s a brioche-buttery and airy cake made with eggs, flour, milk, butter and sugar, and filled with festive flavors: raisins, candied orange, and sometimes topped with sugar. Moist, delicious and luxurious.

Nothing says Christmas more than panettone.
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The history (legend?) of panettone

Panettone is Italy’s absolute favorite and the uncontested King of the holidays. And speaking of kings…here’s a fun fact.

The legend goes that panettone was born by mistake when Toni – a kitchen boy in the court of Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan – accidentally burnt the duke’s Christmas Eve desserts.

To make up for it, he mixes leftover dough with sugar, egg, candied fruits and raisins and bakes a voluminous loaf. 

Ludovico loves it, and when he asks what it is, here’s what the chef says (in Milanese dialect): «L'è 'l pan dal Tögn», meaning, it’s the bread of Toni. “Pan dal Tögn” then becomes “Panettone” in Italian.

L'è 'l pan dal Tögn (Milanese dialect)
Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan (Ludovico "il Moro")

More realistically, “Panettone” actually means “big loaf of bread”, un grande pane. But hey, we all love a good fairytale. Especially at Christmas.

Panettone Fiasconaro

Marco's favorite panettone in the US

Buy Panettone Fiasconaro

Unsurprisingly, the best companion to panettone is a glass of Italian bubbly. I recommend Moscato d’Asti as a light option, or a glass of sweet spumante or prosecco

Moscato d'Asti, spumante or prosecco all pair perfectly with panettone

During the Christmas holidays, panettone is eaten both as a dessert after dinner or for breakfast (in which case coffee, cappuccino or hot cocoa are all great accompaniments).

Mascarpone cream recipe

If you want to make your panettone experience extra scrumptious, well…I may have the right recipe for you. I’m about to teach you how to make an absolutely delicious crema al mascarpone

Crema al mascarpone

Yes, you heard it right: a cheesy cream made with eggs, sugar and mascarpone.

First though, repeat after me: Mas-car-po-ne, mascarpone. Not mascarponi, not marscaponemas-car-po-ne!

How to pronounce mascarpone

It’s so easy to make and you’ll impress everyone around the table. Here’s what you need.


  • 500g of Mascarpone cheese at room temperature and preferably made in Italy (trust me, I can tell the difference!)
  • 4 eggs, also at room temperature
  • 125g of sugar
  • 50g of water
  • A pinch of salt
  • Marsala sweet wine (optional)

Mascarpone Sterilgarda

Mascarpone from Marco's home region

Buy mascarpone made in Italy

Here's an ingredient card I put together for your convenience (you can download it for free below):

How to make mascarpone cream:

Step 1: Pour the water and the sugar into a saucepan. Mix lightly and bring the mixture to 121°C (that’s 250°F), measuring the temperature with a kitchen thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, the syrup will be ready when small, white bubbles form on the surface.

Step 2: In the meantime, separate egg whites and yolks in two bowls and start whipping the egg yolks with an electric whisk. 

Step 3: When the syrup has reached the right temperature, pour it slowly over the egg yolks, lowering the speed of the whisk and keeping it running. Continue whipping until completely cooled.

Step 4: In the other bowl, add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whip them until stiff. This is my favorite part. See this gooey liquid turn into a beautiful fluffy cloud. It’s kinda like magic.

Step 5: Now, soften the mascarpone with a spatula, then gradually add it to the now cold egg yolk mixture. Incorporate with the whisk, mixing gradually.

Step 6: Finally, add the egg white “cloud” into the mix, and incorporate so as to obtain a homogeneous cream. 

Step 7 (optional): If you like me feel extra cheeky today, add a few drops of marsala sweet wine to the mix, to make your mascarpone cream a bit naughty. Don’t worry, Santa will forgive you once he has a bite too 😉

La crema al mascarpone è pronta! Enjoy it by dripping it all over your slice of panettone. 

You can watch this recipe as a video (and find other fun Italian goodies) on our YouTube channel!

And as always, you can find inspiration for your festive Italian shopping in our Amazon Shop:

Disclaimer: Inevitaly is an independent publication supported by readers like you (thanks!) We may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through affiliate links on our site at no additional cost to you.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a great start to the new year. Buon Natale e buone feste!

Marco Danesi
Santa's favorite Italian Elf

Buon Natale

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