Are you afraid of panettone? It is one of my most favorite holiday time treats and traditions. But I find that many people have never tried it and don’t know how awesome it is. I know for me, it was one of those things that I would see in a store and ignore because I didn’t know what it was or hear anyone talking about. So I’m talking about it. Because you need to try it. I only share things I love and think you will like too. This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase through these links, I am compensated.
Panettone bread is sold in regular grocery stores, specialty stores like Trader Joe’s (they have their own version), retail stores like World Market and on Amazon. It usually comes in a box and you can’t really tell what is inside. Maybe that puts people off. Or maybe when people read the description they wrongly accuse panettone of being fruit cake. I assure you. It is not. Well, it is, but not like fruitcake, fruitcake.
What the Heck is Panettone?
Panettone is an Italian Christmas bread. That cleared everything right up for you, didn’t it? :) It is like a really light and fluffy bread. Pastry-like. And what you are seeing in this photo is dried fruits. But it is shaped more like a cake. I know this is all rather confusing. But I implore you to pick one up and give it a try. They are not all created equal. I love the Bauducco brand that comes in the yellow boxes. They always taste amazing.
Panettone comes is a bunch of different sizes and a few flavors. I haven’t actually had the Chocolate Chip one yet (because I devoured the original right after these photos were taken and I wanted to save a treat for later on this month). But I know it can’t be bad. You know that you have walked past these in the store for years and wondered what they were. Next time you see them, buy two. You try one and gift one to a friend. They make the perfect little hostess gifts and are great for holiday entertaining.
The thing is, the boxes make the panettone seem a lot bigger than it really is. This is the mini panettone pictured above. The box is almost twice this size so it seems like maybe it could be shared. But it’s a single serving. Not sure if the box says that, but to me, it is. BUT this is a great size to try for your first time. Just know if you are picking one up as a gift, the panettone bread will be smaller than it appears. Size up. The bread is in a bag inside the box to keep it super fresh and I think this takes up a little space.
While you might be just starting out on your panettone journey I consider myself somewhat of a panettone snob. Many years ago I grabbed a box on a whim because I needed to know what this panettone business was all about. One bite and I was hooked. Now, because my family knows how much I enjoy it, they pick them up for me when they see them. And I’ve tried a few brands. You can’t go wrong with the yellow box!
So, in summary, panettone is basically like an airy, pastry-like bread with dried fruits. It is slightly sweet and very delicate. It is crumbly and will fall apart. It’s crazy delicious and I can’t believe you’ve never tried it.
How Do You Eat Panettone?
You can eat panettone right out of the bag/box. You can pull off big chunks and shove them in your mouth, or you can try to be a bit more civilized and use a serrated knife to cut slices. My all-time favorite way to eat panettone is toasted with butter. I take a portion that is entirely too large for the average person and put it under the broiler to toast both sides. If you put it in the toaster it will basically fall apart everywhere. That’s how delicate it is!
What you can’t tell from these images is how light this bread is! When you pick up a box it might feel heavy to you. Trust me, when you slice off a portion, you will start to see how fluffy and airy it is. Panettone is my favorite holiday breakfast treat! It usually starts showing up in stores around Thanksgiving. And I eat a few every season. My youngest is all over me to share with him this year so I’ll need to pick up a few more.
I have to admit I haven’t tried too many recipes using panettone yet. At some point, I will be making bread pudding with it because I can imagine how amazing it is from the way it tastes on its own. Bauducco shares many recipes on their website and this one, called Romeo and Juliet, caught my eye. I never, in a million years, thought I would find Guava marmalade. But I found it at my local grocery store on my first attempt.
You simply put a little marmalade and cream cheese on small pieces of panettone and heat in the oven until slightly melty. OMG! My expectations were low. I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese and I already love the panettone so I thought, how could it be better? Guess what. Delish! The Guava marmalade adds a sweet/tartness to the bread and the cheese adds the most delightful creamy element. I love how adding these two ingredients took it from being bread to a little treat you could entertain with.
Once you try this cake, keep your eyes out at Easter time for another Italian favorite, Colomba cake!
I hope you will try panettone this season. And you know that the best hostess gifts are those things you normally wouldn’t buy for yourself. Consider picking a few up for those holiday parties you will be attending or hosting. Once you try this, I know it will become part of your holiday tradition as it has for me. And let me know what you think of it!
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Disclosure: Bauducco sent me one panettone, years ago, to use in a post. I have updated this post (and bought dozens of panettone for myself) because I love it and want everyone to know about it! I can’t be bought with a single loaf of bread. But I have to disclose the “relationship”.
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