December 4, 2006
Pricey Panettone

I walked into the produce department of Corti Brothers on Saturday to pick up some onions and basil and burst out laughing. I'd almost run the shopping cart into a rack of holiday cakes, but that wasn't what was so amusing. The cakes included the biggest panettone I'd ever seen, a 10-kilo monster that sells for $379.99. If you've been stumped about what to get for the centerpiece of your holiday dessert buffet, your problem has been solved.

I've come to think of "panettone" as Italian for "fruit cake," only panettone is lighter and its contents are more diverse. And now, bigger. Corti's mammoth panettone is by the bakery Dolciaria Loison in Italy's Veneto region. The panettone that couldn't help but catch my eye has a name that is a mouthful in itself - Magnum Panettone Classico Cappelliera. "Cappelliera" is Italian for "hatbox," which is how the cake is packaged, in a big round hatbox that itself is witty and entertaining. I don't know what you will find in this particular panettone, but it could be bits of the almond nougat torrone or the candied sour cherries amarene or raisins plumped with the wine torcolato. They are gifts within a gift. Smaller sizes also are available.

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