I grew up with the most amazing Italian grandmother. One of her many strengths was pulling together a fantastically delicious and beautiful Italian Christmas. If you aren’t Italian, I’ll let you in on a little secret—that means there was delicious food everywhere, in quantities that might make you think we were expecting twice as many people than were actually invited. If you’re Italian, I imagine you are reading this and nodding your head—making an abundance of delicious food seems to be a universal Italian grandmother trait!
One Christmas food tradition my Italian family had was opening gifts on Christmas morning while enjoying a cup of coffee and a bready breakfast item—like this French toast—before moving to the table for a larger brunch.
If you are not already familiar with panettone, it’s a delightfully fluffy bread shaped like a giant muffin. Inside a panettone, you traditionally find candied orange peels and raisins but there are many different varieties available from cranberry to chocolate and fig. I like the classic recipe from Balocco because that is the one my mother and grandmother use but this recipe will work with any panettone.
Enjoy your panettone French toast with a mug of coffee or cocoa around the Christmas tree or make it part of your brunch spread with a plate of Italian soft nougat candies (leave these out for nibbling throughout the day) and a glass of bubbly Prosecco—with or without orange juice.
Don’t forget to dress your table for the occasion! Simple accents like snow globe ornaments and laser cut wood houses dress up a simple white tablecloth, wood chargers and white dishes and turn your table into a festive winter wonderland.
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