“Oh look, Mari, they have panettone!” I all but squealed in excitement, pronouncing it ”˜pah-neh-tone’ (rhymes with ”˜phone.’)
“Lori, please, it’s pah-neh-toh-neh!” My good friend, Mari, replies in mock exasperation. I should have known. Born and raised in Italy for a good part of her life, Mari is my food guru. At least now I know how to pronounce panettone properly.
We were looking at a display of imported food in some I-now-forget-which mall. As is common when I’m surrounded by anything edible, I was exclaiming over the goods, barely able to contain myself.
The conversation above happened about three years ago. I remembered it when I was in SantÃ¯s the other day and my gaze rested on a large box, an eye-catching red and orange. Il Panettone Gianduia it read. The illustration was that of a dome shaped bread with vertical chocolate stripes and a chocolate chip studded top. Temptation, panettone is thy name. So enamored am I of the chocolate and bread combination that I didn’t even think twice about plunking down P538 for it.
Panettone (also pannetone) is an Italian yeast-raised cake. A specialty of Milan, it’s eaten during festive occasions such as Christmas and Easter. The one I bought is cylindrical in shape, but panettones can also range in size from individual portions to one big enough to feed fervid bread lovers. It’s made from an enriched yeast dough ”“ flour, eggs, sugar, milk ”“ with a combination of raisins and candied peel, nuts, and spices.
This is a panettone gianduia (also gianduja), a mesmerizing mixture of hazelnuts and chocolate. People can’t seem to figure out how to pronounce it ”“ choose among gyan-DO-ya, gyan-DO-ha, john-DO-ya. Several different names, one great taste.
The panettone I bought was a bit deceiving. First, it’s not as dense as it looks. Possessing a light, almost fluffy crumb, it would remain flat if I sat on it, or say, stomped on it with my foot. Secondly, while its crown is all chocolate, there are very few stripes of chocolate inside the bread itself. My face fell when my first slice yielded nothing but a golden crumb through and through. Where was the chocolate? I was tempted to claw my way into the bread looking for it.
As for taste, while there are no distractions in the form of raisins, nuts, and spices, there’s a strong orange flavor, though it’s far from overwhelming. I started thinking that this panettone would be delicious if made into a bread pudding. While slicing into it, the chocolate top slid off. With the bread top-naked now like a bald man, I scrambled to return the crown to its rightful place.
In spite of the disappointments, I like this bread. I had it for breakfast a few times and even tried it toasted ”“ as expected, the chocolate oozes and melts. I scraped it off the saucer and spread it back on top of the panettone.