Sponge and cream pudding

This sponge and cream pudding is called ‘zuccotto’ in Italian, and is a classic Italian dessert that has its origins in Renaissance Florence. During that period the classic Italian ‘semifreddo’ was invented, and at the same time this fabulous sweet emerged, combining the richness of a cake with the freshness of an ice cream. The original recipe involved a cream centre made with ricotta cheese sweetened with honey and enriched with the addition of dried figs. Today we tend to make a simpler version that instead includes the addition of chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Don’t forget that ‘zuccotto’ is a dessert to be enjoyed cold after several hours in the fridge. This will allow you to turn the dessert out easily and cut it into slices when you serve. Being a very unusual shape it is a dessert that lends itself to festive occasions. Can be prepared in advance.

Ingredients

  • sponge cake 200 grams
  • whipping cream 250g fresh cream
  • ricotta cheese 300 grams
  • chocolate 80 grams Bitter
  • candied fruit 80 grams mixed
  • icing sugar 150 grams
  • unsweetened cocoa powder 30 grams
  • liqueur
Information
160 minutes Total time
Serves 6 persons
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Preparation

Whip the cream until firm, add the icing sugar, then sieve the ricotta and mix this into the sugar and cream. Divide the mixture into two, one slightly larger than the other. Add the chopped candied fruit and the chopped chocolate to the larger half, and mix the cocoa into the smaller half. Cut the sponge cake into thin slices and soak them with mixed liqueurs diluted with a little water (use maraschino, rum, kirsch, alchermes, etc.). Line a pudding bowl with these cake slices and cover with a layer of chocolate dough. Then spread a layer of the ‘white’ dough mixture, press down and finish with the remaining slices of soaked sponge cake. Chill for several hours before serving.

Tips
Before lining the pudding bowl with the soaked sponge cake, line the bowl with some cling film which will help you turn the cake out. Before serving you can sprinkle with cocoa or garnish with melted chocolate and a little fresh cream.
Trivia
Legend has it that the sponge and cream pudding ‘zuccotto’ is the first semifreddo in gastronomic history and that it was first made in a spiked infantry helmet. ‘Zucca’ in Tuscan dialect means ‘head’.

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