While living in Rome (back in 2011), I once went on a hunt for a special Roman sweet called maritozzi con panna. These sweet Roman sugar brioche buns are filled with whipped cream and served at breakfast – but I found them available any time at bars, cafes and pastry shops.
What’s in a name?
The name maritozzi stems from the word marito (husband) giving it a marriage connotation. Historically, it was custom for the groom, as proof of his love, to give these buns to his future bride, who referred to her future husband as maritozzo (quasi-husband) – hence the name of the sweets.
In some regions, including Le Marche, maritozzi can be larger loaves served at Easter, at the time of Lent. In Rome, maritozzi are small buns available year round and typically served with panna or whipped cream.
Although these sweet brioche buns look simple, the process for making the dough is a long one: it must rise overnight for at least twelve hours. Once the buns are baked and cooled, a slit is cut and filled with fresh whipped cream. Simple.
As you bite into one of these cute little clouds of sweetness, you will know it was worth the wait.
The maritozzo pictured here was the size of a large hot dog bun. The brioche was the usual light sweet bread and the freshly whipped cream had just the right amount of sugar for a slight sweet taste – not too sweet.
For those that fear whipped cream (or can’t have it for dietary reasons), there is an alternate version, which incorporates raisins (and nuts) in the dough mixture and served as is or, of course a dab of cream can be added on top. Also important to note, some recipes also add anisette liqueur for flavor.
One of the most famous places to get maritozzi is at il Maritozzaro, but these buns can be found in pastry shops all around Rome.
- il Maritozzaro – Via Ettore Rolli, 50, 00153 Roma
When discussing maritozzi with my Italian friends, they shared with me another intriguing pre-wedding tradition: the revival of the moonlight serenade.
In parts of Italy, it has become tradition for a groom and his guys to gather below the future bride’s window or balcony and perform songs in honor of their love. No, these men are not in tights performing with a minstrel. Some bring their acoustic guitars, use a stereo as back up or even perform as a full band. They are sometimes (probably usually) drunk and just sing to the window above as the bride-to-be eventually appears alla Juliet.
Italian rap pop artist Jovanotti, offered us an example of a modern serenade with his 1991 song and video for Serenata Rap. In the song, he continuously pleads his lover to come to the window.
Maybe it’s time to make the maritozzi and serenade a thing again.
NOTE: This is an updated version of an article originally posted in 2011 on a previous blog I ran called Modern Culture: Italy. The article was part of a series called Adventures in Rome. The blog no longer exists; however, I am pulling and updating some of the articles that I found to be interesting enough to have a life here on Magnusmade.com.