Italia Bakery: Baci di dama and Cannoli Heaven
2828 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
If you’re running out of ideas for Christmas presents for co-workers and colleagues, what’s better than a big ol’ box of pastries? I know I’d love one – co-workers and colleagues reading this, take note! Actually, I visit Italia Bakery quite often, sometimes just to buy big ol’ boxes of pastries just for myself!
This little bakery is famous for their cream puffs but my favourite cookie has always been the Baci di dama, which translates in Italian to “women’s kiss.” It’s simply two very buttery little cookies sandwiching some semi-sweet chocolate. It sounds so uncomplicated but the flavours are sophisticated and delicious and the texture of this cookie is mind blowing. It reminded me of Mantecaos Amandes at La Cure Gourmande in Paris. The crumbly, sweet cookie melted in my mouth, the loose and ultra soft texture transforming into a creamy paste mixing with the equally creamy and silky smooth chocolate center. Make sure you load up on these cookies at Italia Bakery. They’re not the most colourful and fancy but they’re the tastiest!
One of the prettier cookies includes the jam pockets. A shortbread cookie with a frilly edge wrapped artistically around some sweet and tart jam. These cookies are so cute, looking like a little tongue sticking out at you in a playful, teasing manner. The shortbread is not too sweet and the berry jam provides most of the fruity flavour.
Italia Bakery also sells a selection of macarons. I went with chocolate this time but there are other flavours. The macaron cookies are not the same as the French variety, and definitely not as gorgeous. The flavour is passable. They don’t hold a candle up to the other traditional Italian cookies.
I love the pretty shell cookies, partially dipped in chocolate. The actual cookies are soft, crumbly and sweet and the filling is a light hazelnut cream. It’s delicious!
Another yummy filled cookie is the lemon moons. My friend calls these lemon perogies because of their half-moon shape. The cookie is sweet and crumbly just like the jam pockets. The filling is a sweet lemon jam which I like better than the jam pocket filling. The lemon jam offers a tartness that balances nicely with the powdered sugar sprinkled on top of the cookie.
Among the many things Italians are famous for in the food world, two of them are hazelnuts and cannoli. The best is the combination of the two. I always buy hazelnut cannoli from Italia Bakery. They’re gorgeous with their beige and brown stripes and drizzle of chocolate. Filled to the max with silky hazelnut cream, each end is also covered with slivered, toasted hazelnuts. I usually finish one of these skinny cannoli in three bites max.
The other cannoli we bought was the chocolate and vanilla cream filled one. It was delectable. The cream was smooth and rich. And the cookie part of the cannoli looks like it would be crunchy but it’s actually soft and the slightest bit chewy.
I will definitely visit Italia Bakery multiple times this holiday season!