I know it’s definitely Christmas time when I start to see all the colorful boxes of panettone and pandoro sold in almost every store I walk into. Both breads are decadent and sweet and most Italians love to eat them for dessert and breakfast, as well as giving them out as gifts during the holidays.
The difference between the two is that panettone is studded with nuts and dried fruits and pandoro is plain, no fruit or nuts but rich in butter and egg like a fluffy brioche, golden in color and baked in a pretty star- shaped pan.
You can make pandoro into a Christmas tree shape by cutting the star-shaped loaf horizontally and then rotating the layers.
It’s fun to make, very festive and it doesn’t take long to put it together, it can be a fun project to do with your kids and the best part is, there’s no baking involved!
Here I made an adult version by brushing the layers with limoncello. In the past I’ve used Amaretto, which is equally amazing, but feel free to eliminate the liqueur all together if you want, it’s not necessary.
Then there’s the mascarpone and whipped cream mix, together they create a nice stable consistency which will hold your cake together and give you that look of “snow”. I also folded in some good quality, store-bought lemon curd into the whipped cream mixture, I’ll just let you imagine how good it is, no words needed.
For a kids version think Nutella swiped onto the layers along with the whipped cream and mascarpone mixture.
Honestly the flavor possibilities are endless as well as the decorating part. You can put fresh berries on the star points to make it look like ornaments and if you don’t want fresh fruit you can use candied cherries, sprinkles, crushed candy canes, shaved chocolate, edible stars. The baking isle of your store will give you a ton of inspiration.
You can make a nice presentation for your holiday table by decorating your serving platter with some fake greenery and pine cones like I did, or just wander into a craft store to get your own awesome ideas.
The fun part is decorating the very top, I found an acrylic star ornament that I can reuse, I just cut off the string and popped it into the cake. Here again the possibilities are endless, you could even use one of your own decorated cookies, that would be a really nice touch.
I hope you give this a try and if you do I would love to see all your creations!
Follow me on Instagram where you can see what else I’m cooking up daily during the holidays.
- 1 large Pandoro
- ½ cup of Limoncello or other liqueur (optional)
- 1 small jar of good quality store-bought lemon curd 10 oz. ( You won't use it all)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temp
- 2 heaping tablespoons, powdered sugar
- edible stars, white pearl sprinkles or anything else you want to decorate with
- A topper for your tree cake, I used a star ornament
- platter decorations
- Turn the Pandoro on it's side and carefully cut six slices horizontally.
- In a large mixing bowl add the mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar, cream well beating with a mixer.
- Next add the heavy cream into the mascarpone mixture, beating well into stiff peaks, not soft and loose.
- Fold in lemon curd, start with a heaping tablespoon and keep adding more to taste and stiffness of the cream mixture, remember you don't want it runny.
- Place the largest slice onto your serving platter.
- Brush first layer with limoncello, if not using liqueur just brush the layer with a thin swipe of lemon curd.
- Spread cream mixture all over the top.
- Top with the next largest slice making sure to angle it so the points of the star do not align.
- Repeat with the limoncello and cream mixture on each layer and finally the top.
- At this point you can refrigerate it over night and decorate it closer to the time you will be serving it. I've done it hours before. Try not to serve it ice cold from the fridge, let it sit out a little.
- To cut remover layer by layer and cut into serving size, when you get towards the bottom you can cut into wedges.
- Remember, the skies the limit on flavor and decorating, make it your own!