You can’t fill a Christmas stocking with freshly churned gelato (well, you can, although we wouldn’t recommend it), but you can fill a traditional Italian Christmas cake with the stuff and Piccolina Gelateria has done just that – releasing a special panettone con gelato in the lead up to the festive season.

“[Panettone] is a traditional Italian cake which is eaten at Christmas time … They usually come in a beautiful box and you give them as gifts to family or when you visit people for Christmas,” says Piccolina owner Sandra Foti.

“We wanted to fill it with gelato because it's so delicious. It's like having a brioche with gelato – it just becomes this beautiful complete dessert.”

The new handmade cakes combine sweet, buttery panettone dough with two of Piccolina’s most popular flavours: the chocolate hazelnut Better Than Nutella and its creamy classic vanilla.

The gelato-filled Panettone Nutella is covered in dark-chocolate glaze with roasted hazelnuts and topped with a hazelnut truffle. The Panettone Vanilla is covered in white chocolate and dotted with gold pearl crisps, candied orange and a golden cherry topper.

Both come in a hand-printed limited-edition canvas bag. They’re $85 each and give 12 to 14 generous serves. Foti recommends ordering yours early and storing it in the freezer until Christmas day, then taking it out 10 to 15 minutes before serving, so the panettone softens and the ice-cream stays cold.

Panettones are notoriously difficult to make, and each of these cakes was baked in Melbourne by Piccolina chefs in the commercial kitchen behind the gelateria’s Collingwood flagship.

“The challenge is in the dough,” says Foti. “Someone described it to me as ‘the Louis Vuitton of the baking world’. And it's actually true; it was such a complex process to get it right.”

Foti originally thought of buying the cakes pre-made but couldn’t find one – even imported from Italy – that met Piccolina’s high standards.

“We just didn’t feel it was right for the project, because our philosophy is to make everything from scratch with no preservatives, no thickeners, no additives, no colours, no essences,” she says. “So it was either we make it ourselves and we make it work, or we don't do it at all.”

Panettone con Gelato are available now at Piccolina Collingwood, Hawthorn and St Kilda. Order yours online today.