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Italian Sweet Treats From Emporio Rulli

After stuffing ourselves silly on Thanksgiving, it’s hard to fathom attacking more sweets.

But the Bay Area’s Emporio Rulli makes it so very hard to resist.

Especially when it comes to Italian specialty confections such as panforte and cialde wafer cookies, of which I just received samples of both.

I remember years ago during the winter, getting in line at a bakery in Siena, Italy, where panforte is a specialty. I had no idea why everyone was queued up, but I fell in behind everyone, hoping something wonderful awaited at the front. When my turn finally came, I bought what everyone else was buying — panforte. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I unwrapped it and took a bite. My expression fell immediately as I realized I had just spent money on a dreaded fruitcake. Not my fave, to say the least.

But Emporio Rulli’s version just might make a fruitcake believer out of you, as it did me. Unlike the one in Siena that was sticky, gooey soft, the Emporio Rulli one is extremely chewy and crunchy — more along the lines of a hard nougat. You’re hit with the unmistakable fragrance of oranges the minute you unwrap the round that’s studded completely with almonds, hazelnuts, apricots, candied orange peel and citron.

Once you peel off the bottom parchment paper, don’t be alarmed to see another sheet of paper thoroughly stuck to the confection. It’s wafer paper and it’s edible. The panforte is a delight to eat, especially with a glass of Vin Santo dessert wine. It even works as pick-me-up after a work-out, almost like a gourmet energy bar.

A 1-pound-2-ounce panforte is $26.75; a 1 pound-10-ounce one is $38.

If you remember buying slabs of break-apart wafer cookies at the store when you were a kid, you’re sure to enjoy this super-sized version. Cialde wafer cookies are about the size of a diner pancake. The 6-inch diameter, paper-thin golden cookies are made on imported machines from Montecatini, a famous spa resort in Italy. Emporio Rulli is the only pasticceria in the United States that has these traditional machines that emboss the original Nencini family name from that town.

A filling of almonds, sugar and vanilla goes in between two wafers, which are then sealed together by an antique press. The sandwich cookie is so thin, you’d never know there was a filling inside. But take a bite and you’ll find the sweet, white, creamy, thick filling. The wafer cookies are dynamite with an espresso or a scoop of gelato. Or just wrap your fingers around one to enjoy as is.

The wafer sandwiches come five to a pack. A two-pack container is $31.90.

More Goodies from Emporio Rulli: Panettone

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