In New Orleans and throughout southeast Louisiana, Catholics celebrate St. Joseph’s Day on March 19th by building beautiful altars overflowing with food, flowers, and candles. The aim is to thank St. Joseph for relieving hunger during a famine in Sicily, and the tradition took root when Sicilian immigrants settled in the city and the surrounding areas.
St. Joseph’s Day altars are found in people’s homes, as well as at local churches and Italian restaurants, and they’re laden with delicious cookies, cakes, and breads. The bounty is meant to be generously shared; so, in that spirit, bake up some special moments with these classic Italian recipes that offer much sweetness and gratitude.
Rely on our best recipes and tips for making these specialties at home:
Pâte à Choux dough is the essential recipe needed for making the wonderfully light and airy pastry that’s the foundation of this dessert. Once you’ve baked the pastry, the puffs are generously filled with a mixture of ricotta cream, chocolate chips, and roasted pistachios with a cherry on top. (Pro tip: Be sure to make enough pastry dough to freeze. Then, you’ll have it on hand for making cream puffs, eclairs, or profiteroles anytime your heart desires.)
Similar to biscotti, these festive Italian cookies are wonderful with coffee or tea. They’re rolled in sesame seeds and offer a delicious hint of anise flavor.
Stuffed with figs, dates, and nuts and topped with confectioner’s glaze and rainbow sprinkles, these homemade Italian cookies are the kind you’ll find in famous gelato shops like Angelo Brocato’s in New Orleans.
Our 1-2-3-4 Layer Cake is incredibly versatile, and can be baked in round cake layer pans or as a sheet cake in a 9×13 rectangular pan. Covered in mousseline buttercream, this celebratory cake is decorated in the Italian flag colors of red, green, and white.