We just entered the Carnival period, with its masks, jokes and delicious sweets, which can only be enjoyed at this time of year. Like every territory has its traditional specialities, Florence and its surroundings have their musts to be tasted or prepared at home, too.
The schiacciata alla fiorentina has already appeared in the windows of pastry shops and on baker's counters: a low cake sprinkled with icing sugar, made with a mixture of eggs, flour, sugar and orange flavouring. The cake is often decorated with the Florence lily, obtained with a stencil.
You can get it whole, half or in portions for a tasty snack, simple or filled with whipped cream or custard.
There is no Carnival without Cenci, rectangles or stripes of sweet fried dough and then rolled in icing sugar. They are prepared all over Italy, but their names change (frappe, chiacchiere the most common). Cenci are usually fried, but they also exist in an oven-baked version, sprinkled with caster sugar.
Rice fritters, a speciality linked to St Joseph's Day on 19 March, are also available during Carnival. They are so good, enriched with sultanas or filled with cream, and you can find them both in bakeries and pastry shops. Fried doughnuts and simple are also very popular, but these are on sale all year round.
Finally, to introduce the period of Lent, where sweets are supposed to be banned for the strictest adherents of religion, here is another speciality: Quaresimali (Lenten biscuits), little buiscuits in the shape of the of alphabet letters. They are very light and made with bitter cocoa.