To be perfectly honest, the first time I saw a sbrisolona, it didn’t do too much for me. It wasn’t interesting looking and in fact, to continue with my honesty, actually sort of boring. Originating in Mantova, sbrisolona is a dessert meant to be broken in pieces and eaten with wine, grappa or espresso and I still didn’t see the allure. But when I had my first taste in Salò at Vassalli Pasticceria …aaahhhhh…that small bite was so incredibly buttery, almond scented, the perfect amount of sweetness, all with the right amount of delicate crunch. I was  completely hooked!  So I bought six from Signorina Vassalli, ate two that day with my niece Sam and tucked the rest away carefully in my carry on. And since they’re supposed to be eaten in pieces, I was a step ahead when I arrived home in the U.S.

Although Salò, on the western shore of Lake Garda is only 60 miles from Mantova, it’s not Mantova, so on a subsequent trip, I went in search of true Mantovan sbrisolona to see if there was a difference and recruited my friends for a taste test. Lesley, Ingrid and I bought seven sbrisolone all from different bakeries and shops in Mantova in various shapes and sizes – large, small, round and rectangular and brought them back to our apartment to taste.


It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. Three American women, one Italian man (our friend Paolo), lots of sugar (and a fair amount of wine) and we all agreed on our blind taste test winner…Vassalli Pasticceria.

So the next time you’re in Salò, stop by at Vassalli Pasticceria, say bongiorno to Signorina Vassalli, buy some sbrisolone (and all the other beautiful chocolates and confections you won’t be able to resist). But in the meantime, here’s my favorite – and let me know how you like it.

  • 1 ½ c./300 g. almonds
  • 1 ½ c./180 g. flour
  • 1 c./160 g. corn meal
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c./227 g. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 c./240 g. sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter and parchment a 10" springform pan or cake pan.
  2. Chop the almonds finely in a food processor. They shouldn’t be like a powder, more like sand consistency.
  3. Almonds for Sbrisolona
    Chopped Almonds for Sbrisolona
  4. Combine the flour, corn flour and salt into a medium bowl.
  5. In the bowl of the mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest and vanilla and mix well, another minute.
  7. Add the flour mixture and almonds and mix on low until just blended.
  8. Sbrisolona Batter
  9. Put the batter pieces in the spring form pan and press very gently making sure all the space is covered but it’s chunky, not smooth.
  10. Sbrisolona Batter in Pan
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes until pale golden with slightly brown edges.
  12. Let cool and remove from pan.
  13. Sbrisolona
  14. Sbrisolona is served broken in pieces, not cut and will keep for several days wrapped in foil or parchment paper. DO NOT keep it in an airtight container because it will get soft and you want it crunchy.



Sbrisolona — 93 Comments

    • I’m so glad you liked it Melinda and thanks so much for taking the time to let me know! It’s such a favorite and I like how you played around with it with the semolina. Some people have also added chocolate chips or dried currents. Or you can dip half in chocolate:) Thanks for stopping by…

  1. Laney, I love this recipe so much, I made it several times. It keeps well, and freezes well, too. Just took one out of the freezer and have been snacking on it for days. Crumbled some on my ice cream last night. Yum. Thanks for this recipe!

    • I’m so glad you like it Liz! It really is so easy to make and rather addicting actually – now you’re talking as an ice cream topping!

  2. This is such a unique recipe! It looks yummy and I always take on bread or dessert challenges. I would like to try this one with my daughter. She loves to bake with me. You gave a great explanation too.

    • Glad you like it Rosenda! And it’s a great one to bake with kids since it’s not too difficult and the measurements are easy ones. Enjoy!

  3. I love everything about this post! It’s educational, shows your personality and includes a recipe! I will be trying this at home and tying it Into a geographical lesson!

    Thank you!

    • You are so sweet Angela! Thank you so much! And tying in food with geography would be a great way to learn. (I wish I had teachers like that).

    • Hmmm…I don’t know since I’ve never worked with gluten free flour. But if you give it a try, please let me know how it turns out.

    • Definitely try it Amy! And the further north you go in Italy, the recipes have a strong German/Austrian influence so of course it’s allowed!

  4. I love trying things from different countries and I love almonds so this is a no brainer for me. I will have to get the ingredients for it on the next shopping trip.

    • This is an easy one because you probably don’t even have to buy much at the store. And almonds keep so well in the freezer you can make sbrisolona again!

  5. This sounds delicious! I’ve never tried using almonds as part of the flour mix. I’ll bet it adds a delicious flavor. Looks a little bit like a coffee cake consistency … a bit moist, but crumbly. Will definitely give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I haven’t heard of this before. It sounds like it could be rather easy to make. I will have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

  7. My husband saw the pictures and now wants me to make this. I laughed because I don’t bake and he knows that but I’ll give it a try for him! Thanks for the recipe and I’ll be pinning it.

  8. I Agree that Italian desserts tend to be “sleepers”–things that you don’t visually appreciate but enjoy upon entry into your mouth! Thanks for sharing this recipe and introducing me to this dessert.

    • And I suppose the opposite is true when you see an amazing looking dessert that you think will be fabulous and you take the first bite…and it’s just eh…

  9. Wow, interesting. Almonds. I think I would really like this. Thanks for this recipe. I think it would be a great addition to our family meals.

  10. I’ve been looking for more ways to incorporate almonds into my cooking and baking and I think this will be a hit! I’m imaging a consistency on the order of Biscotti? And of course I love that it looks fairly easy to make.

  11. Thanks for sharing. We do get stuck in a rut and only eat the same things over and over. This is a good time to share this type of recipe with fall coming upon us. Yumm!

  12. You had me at “to eaten with wine.” 😉 It looks delicious and I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try, especially desserts AND especially things with a international twist and flavor. Thank you for sharing!

  13. I agree, when you first look it’s not that inviting, but after reading the recipe, it sounds amazing!! I may have to try it because it sounds so simple and the result really does sound delicious! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • This is for sure one of those where you can’t judge a book by it’s cover (so to speak)…it’s fabulous…and quite addicting!

  14. I’ve never heard of this but a dessert that does with wine??? Yep, I’m sold! I think this would be the perfect dessert to try with a wine and cheese date night with my husband.

  15. I have never heard of this either. I am going to have to give it a try a long with a lot of these other really delicious looking recipes around your site!

    • Megan, you should absolutely try this – and I love that you can incorporate it into a geography lesson! Desserts around Italy…or Europe…or the world…

  16. I love European baking! My father has lived in Europe for several years and I must say that I got really spoiled! I have not to my knowledge tried sbrisolona but I am jumping to try this out. I love just about anything almond so this is calling my name! I just pinned this. Thank you for sharing your fabulous find!

    • Lucky you to be able to get to try so many European goodies! And glad you’re going to try this – it’s not a common dessert in the US, but it’s easy to make and VERY addicting.

  17. Oh my goodness I LOVE trying recipes from all over the world. I will definitely be trying this one and will pin it for future reference! Xoxo

  18. It’s funny, Laney. When I was younger I didn’t much care for Italian desserts. I much preferred American cookies (like peanut butter or chocolate chip), layer cakes and pies. The older I get the more I find myself preferring the crumblier, less sweet dolci from Italy. I’ve never made sbriciolona, but your recipe sounds like the one to try. P.S. Lake Garda is one of my favorite places in Italy (outside Abruzzo;-). Cheers, Domenica

    • I agree with you…Italian desserts didn’t seem to have the bang and pizazz that American desserts had. But perhaps the appreciation comes with trying (way too many) Italian dolci. And it’s so nice to meet another Lake Garda fan – thanks so much for stopping by!

  19. You bought 6?! That’s so funny… It was that buttery, almond crunch that won you over. Yum! I’m having a little coffee right now and this would be so perfect to have. I love that there’s cornmeal in your recipe as well. Beautiful!!! Can’t wait to try it out 🙂

    • I would’ve bought more but I had to hold myself back! And it’s perfect with coffee…or wine…or grappa…prosecco?

  20. I had the same experience as you. At first this didn’t do too much for me. Then I got to know Grappa. Also the first couple of recipes I tried really were not that wonderful, certainly not rave-worthy. Now, though I love this. The trouble is this is meant to be shared. I always seem to make it when I am alone…

    • I know..once you start with it, you can’t stop breaking off pieces and before you know if it’s gone! I solved that problem, sort of – I sometimes make them in 6″ springform pans so the damage is limited

  21. Thanks for the recipe Laney. I remember when you brought some in. It was in pieces and didn’t look that interesting. But, I’ll try anything you make. And, after tasting it (over and over again)who cared. To me,I think it could the Italian version of shortbread. I’m going to make it, and give some to my friend’s Mother, who is as Italian as they come, and, see what she thinks. Will let you know.

    • Oh Chuck, I’m so glad you liked it! And now it’ll be your turn to share…and let me know how your friend’s mother likes it.

  22. We were up for the challenge 🙂 Thank you for this wonderful piece and the recipe, and most of all, the memories of a lovely trip. I can’t wait to make this recipe – I think it will be a perfect autumnal/holiday treat!

    • I couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks for eating all that sbrisolone even when you didn’t think you could eat one more bite…

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