IF I ASKED you to think of foods that you associate with Italy, apples probably won’t be of the ones you mention.

Even if I asked you to name fruits that make you think of Italy, the apple is not one of the first ones that springs to mind.

However, there is a long history of the apple in Italy, and lots of amazing recipes for cooking with them.

In Italy, apples are often associated with the region of Trentino, but there are plenty of other places where the fruit is grown.

Both Tuscany and Umbria produce different varieties of apples – some dating right back to Etruscan times. This was the civilisation that preceded the Romans in Italy and they made significant progress, even before all the changes the Romans made.

Fast-forward to the Middle Ages and apples were said to be grown mostly by peasants and monks.

These days, South Tyrol, in northern Italy, is the largest apple-growing region in Europe. Shielded to the North by the Alps and open to the warm South below, the region benefits from ideal apple growing conditions.

Farmers in South Tyrol have been growing apples for over a hundred years now. In fact, every second apple in Italy, and every tenth apple in Europe, is grown there.

Boasting a market share of 40%, South Tyrol is Europe’s largest supplier of organic apples. Their apples are really something special too, characterised by their unique colour, taste and quality.

They are so proud of their apples in South Tyrol that they hold an apple festival, attracting visitors from all over who come to taste their apples, but not just take a bite of one, oh no, the apples are baked into delicious desserts for the festival.

But while apple pies are mostly associated with America, and apple strudel originates from Austria, are there actually any all-Italian apple desserts?

Step forward Boffoli, which are Tuscan baked Italian apples, and they are delicious.

Boffoli are actually very easy to make. Semi cored apples are filled with sugar, golden raisins and pine nuts, before being topped with butter and cooked in dessert wine.

Once baked, the super soft apples are topped with sweet mascarpone cheese to finish them off.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use a paring knife to make two circular cuts in your cored apples before placing it cut side down on a chopping board and cutting crosswise (being careful not to cut through the core), to make a sort of blooming apple, which looks very fancy, but is completely unnecessary. Traditionally, apples are left whole.

It is also tradition to use Vin Santo dessert wine when making Boffoli, but it can be expensive and hard to track down. While there is no exact equivalent, you can pretty much use any dessert wine you like. Crème sherry or a light Muscat will work perfectly with the recipe, and still produce an amazing flavour.

For a healthier version of the dessert, you can save the mascarpone topping and use Greek yoghurt, or frozen yoghurt, to top your apples instead.

Here in the UK, we get through our fair share of apples at this time of year. Toffee apples are an undeniably delicious (although terrible for your teeth unfortunately) treat at this time of year, and plenty of us will be bobbing for apples at Halloween parties later this month.

Much easier to get your teeth into, though, is sweet Boffoli – a simple dessert that is all treat and no trick.


Serves four


60g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

4 green apples (Granny Smith ideally)

4 teaspoons Demerara sugar

2 teaspoons pine nuts

2 teaspoons golden raisins

280ml dessert wine

120g Mascarpone


1. Preheat your oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Take a baking dish large enough hold four apples without them touching one another and grease the bottom and sides with butter.

2. Use an apple corer or a paring knife to remove the core from your apples, leaving an opening around 1 inch wide. Place the apples upright inside the baking dish, ready to fill.

3. Spoon ½ teaspoon of Demerara sugar into each apple. Then spoon ½ teaspoon of pine nuts into each apple. Finally, add ½ teaspoon of golden raisins to each before placing ¼ of the butter on the top of each one.

4. Pour your dessert wine into the bottom of the baking dish, reserving two tablespoons of wine for using later. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the apples before placing in the oven. Bake this dish until the apple skins have burst and the sugar has caramelised. The apples should be easily pierced with a knife. This should take around 45 minutes.

5. While your apples are baking, you can prepare the mascarpone topping. Take a medium sized bowl and add the mascarpone cheese. Then add the two tablespoons of dessert wine that you kept to one side earlier. Whisk the two ingredients together well.

6. Apples should be served warm, or cooled to room temperature – whatever your preference. To serve, place each apple in a bowl and heap a generous dollop of the mascarpone mixture on top. Finally, use a little of the caramelised wine from the baking dish to drizzle over the top of everything as a final touch. Serve.