Christmas is almost upon us… which, in addition to the reappearance of Santa at the Grove (and the ensuing disappearance of parking spaces, your paycheck, your sanity, et al.), also means the arrival of Pandoro cakes on bakery shelves.

A sweet yeast bread traditionally eaten around holiday time which is similar to the raisin-studded Panettone, Pandoro cake hails from Northern Italy where it was originally the dessert of Venetian aristocracy way back in the 18th century.

The cake itself is shaped like a frustum (a pyramid with the top clipped off). And if gloating to your dining companions that you now know the meaning of the word 'frustrum' isn't reason enough to buy one, there's the fun of each horizontal slice being an 8 sided star.

Pandoro cakes, which can be purchased at Eagle Rock Italian Bakery as of this week (manufactured by mass distributors like Motta, not made in-house), often include a packet of confectioners sugar to sprinkle on top–in homage, perhaps, to the snowy Dolomites during Christmastime.

But really, the cakes are a kind of tabula rasa, a blank slate upon which you can realize your own personal holiday wish list. Spread a slice with marscapone cheese. Dip a piece in tea. Scoop out the insides and fill with Chantilly cream, or your favorite flavor of gelato.

Or, glaze it with a few cups of white chocolate thinned with a little milk. The sweet-on-sweet combination may be cloying, but the children in your life will delight in it as as a substitute holiday cookie decorating project (hold candies in place until the chocolate begins to set).

If you're lucky, they might even accept it as a bribe to skip Santa at the Grove.

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