The Zuccotto, one of the richest and most famous Italian desserts can be found in any cafe and pasticceria in Tuscany. Although it probably derives its name because of its round melon shape (zucca – pumpkin, gourd) it seems inspired by the dome shape of Florence’s Duomo.

Flavored, layered, whipped cream is frozen in a mold lined with brick walled cake. Could a pumpkin ever look like Brunelleschis’ beautiful dome?

BOCCA DI DAMA ( SPONGE CAKE)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • grated peel of one lemon
ZUCCOTTO FILLING
  • 2 pints very cold heavy cream
  • confectioners sugar
  • vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons chopped candied fruit
  • 3 tablespoons toasted, chopped almonds and/or hazelnuts
  • cocoa and chopped chocolate or chocolate bits
  • 1 pint strawberries - 50% halved or quartered, 50% crushed with a fork

Instructions:

To Make The Bocca Di Dama:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 inch cake or loaf pan.

Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light and frothy. Gradually sprinkle in the flour, mixing constantly. The batter will become somewhat dense. Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Begin by adding a small amount of egg whites to loosen the batter, then gradually fold the rest of the beaten whites into the batter. Pour the mixture into the buttered pan and bake for 45 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN FOR 30 MINUTES AFTER PUTTING THE PAN IN THE OVEN. Remove when golden and allow to cool for 2 hours before removing from the pan.

To make the filling:

Whip the heavy cream until just a bit past the chantilly stage (stiff) and divide into 3 bowls. To each of the 3 bowls add a different flavoring.

  1. Vanilla – add vanilla and sugar to taste; fold in the candied fruit and nuts.
  2. Strawberry – fold in the strawberries, add sugar to taste.
  3. Chocolate – add cocoa, sugar and chopped chocolate to taste

Zuccotto Assembly:

  1. 3 quart round bottom hemispherical bowl

    Lining the Zuccotto bowl with sponge cake bricks
  2. plastic wrap or damp cheesecloth
  3. 6-9 tablespoons of your choice of liquor or 2-3 tablespoons of 3 different liquors, i.e. Tuaca, Strega, Cognac, Cointreau, rum
  4. butter
  5. confectioners sugar

Butter a 3 quart round bottom hemispherical bowl and press plastic wrap or damp cheesecloth against the side of the bowl. Cut the spongecake into 1/2 – 3/4 inch brick like slices. Moisten the sponge cake with a sprinkle of your choice of liquor. Line the bowl with the cake slices in a brick wall fashion (see photo), fitting them tightly against each other, without overlapping.

Spoon the chocolate cream into the cake lined bowl, spreading it evenly over the entire cake surface, leaving an unfilled cavity in the center. Carefully spoon the strawberry cream on top of the chocolate cream, again leaving a small cavity in the center. Spoon the vanilla cream into the bowl until the cavity is completely filled.

Cut more slices of cake, moisten them with liquor and use them like bricks to cover the top of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze until set or up to 2 days. Don’t worry about the appearance of the dessert. A little irregularity is part of the charm!

Covering the Zuccotto
Zuccotto with strawberry layer

 

To serve: Place in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours to soften before serving. To unmold, invert on a serving platter and lift off the bowl. If it doesn’t come off easily, wipe the outside of the bowl with a cloth wrung out in very hot water. Peel off the plastic wrap. If the outside of the zuccotto is very dry, brush it with more liquor. Dust it heavily with confectioners sugar and lightly with cocoa.

Zuccotto unmolded
Zuccotto with powdered sugar and cocoa powder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zuccotto
Zuccotto center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optional:

(1) Instead of 3 flavors, use one or two of your choice.

(2) Substitute store bought sponge cake, pound cake or panettone for the bricks.

(3) Instead of using flavored whipped cream, substitute ice cream in different flavors. Soften the ice cream to spreading consistency, but do not allow them to melt. Layer as described in the basic recipe.