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Summer Zuccotto

Summer Zuccotto

 Ready for a delicious showstopper of a dessert that’s easy to make too? 

Yes, that’s right, the hardest part of this dessert is cutting the pieces of cake (store purchased) to fit your bowl.
I’m calling this a “summer” zuccotto because it’s not a true zuccotto, but there are so many ways to make zuccotto, who really knows what a true zuccotto is, anyway?
However you make your zuccotto, whether with ice cream or a ricotta filling, or with my recipe using fresh berries and whipped cream, it must be in a semi-spherical shape to be called a zuccotto. In Italian zuccotto means “little pumpkin” after all, and it’s a Tuscan dessert meant to mimic the shape of Brunelleschi’s famed dome in Florence.
I made it recently for our end-of-the-year picnic of my Italian chit-chat group, and it was only one of the many desserts at the table.
And the desserts came after at least a dozen different vegetable and side dishes, plus too many pizzas to count, made by our host Tony, an architect who built a wood-fired pizza oven into the side of his house. They really were the best pizzas this side of Naples.
But back to Florence, and the zuccotto.
Start out by marinating some berries with sugar and lemon. You’ll need that juice later.
What makes this easy is using a store bought cake. I used a Pan D’Oro, the classic egg-rich sponge cake sold in Italian specialty shops. If you can’t find one, buy a sponge cake, or make your own sponge cake, called “pan de spagna” in Italian. My recipe for sponge cake is here, if you need one.
Trim away the brown crusts and fit the cake pieces tightly into a bowl lined with plastic wrap.
Sprinkle the cake with the syrup mixed with liqueur.
Then load in the whipped cream mixed with the drained fruit.
Cover it all with a top layer of cake (this will become the bottom), and sprinkle on some more liquid from the berries (or rum, or whatever you like).
Place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight. Then flip it onto a plate, pour the raspberry sauce on top and decorate.
Dig in and watch it disappear quicker than you can say Brunelleschi.
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Summer Zuccotto
3 cups berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 lemonSlice the strawberries, then mix all the berries together with the sugar and lemon and let them sit for about an hour, or until juices have formed at the bottom of the bowl. While the berries and macerating, prepare the other ingredients:

1 Pan D’Oro, or a large sponge cake

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. gelatin, dissolved in a little water (1/4 cup or so)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup creme de cassis or rum or other liqueur
juice from the drained berries
for the raspberry sauce:
Boil together one 10- or 12-ounce package of frozen raspberries, or a pint of fresh raspberries, 2 T. water and 1/4 cup sugar. Boil for about five minutes, then force through a strainer. Add 1 tsp. lemon juice and refrigerate.Line a bowl with plastic wrap. (Mine held approximately 2 quarts of liquid).
Cut the cake into large slices (about 1/2 inch thick) and fit them tightly into the bowl.

Drain the juice from the berries and add the orange juice and the liqueur and/or rum.
Spoon some of the juices all over the cake, wetting it all over.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it sit for a few minutes while you whip the cream.

Whip the cream with the confectioner’s sugar, adding in the dissolved gelatin. Fold the drained berries into the whipped cream, then spoon the mixture into the cake-lined bowl.

Cover with more pieces of cake, and wet cake with more liquid. If you run out of liquid, you can always use rum, or if you prefer less alcohol, use a simple syrup (make it by boiling some water with sugar and letting it cool).

Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator at least 12 hours, or overnight.

Serve with the sauce and decorate with more berries and mint leaves.

This Post Has 15 Comments
  1. You are so cruel — teasing us like this. Everything looks delicious — wish I could have been there even if only to observe all of the tasty food. The table looks like it is overwhelmed with goodness. I definitely have to make this cake — I've never made it before. I'm pinning it and I've got a celebration coming up where this would be perfect. Grazie mille!!!

  2. Che bel Zuccotto! This, and desserts like it, are one of my absolute favorites for summer feasts. Whether a classic Italian Zuccotto, and English Summer Pudding or a French Charlotte, there is little that can tempt me more than this. I say yes, please!

  3. proprio a Firenze ho mangiato per la prima volta lo zuccotto, ne ho un ricordo bellissimo ! Le tue foto mettono appetito anche quella con la pizza ! Un abbraccio !

  4. You do know how to live! I love changing this up and make it all summery – especially as the fresh berries pour in. Noting this for the 4th. I'm willing to take the pizza also! Best, best wishes to you this week!

  5. So perfect for summer and I totally get it on buying a high quality store bought cake to simplify! Thanks for the meaning of the zuccotto too! I'd love to read a post on how your friend built his pizza oven if he's got photos to share! My mouth is watering! Have a lovely week, Linda!

  6. Love your photos, especially the yummy Summer Z, so sharp, clear, and scrumptious-looking.
    The instructive photos, too, were beautifully composed; and, of course, the view of the table of mouth-watering, delectable desserts for your Italian chit-chat group was tantalizing.
    Everything about your blog is super!
    Especially your enjoyment in producing such an excellent culinary report. — Lorelei

  7. Ooohh…this is like a cross between an English summer pudding and Italian zuccotto, and thus perfect for an all-American 4th of July dessert, in my book. I look forward to making it. Also, you clearly know how to find the right people to hang out with. That wood-fired pizza looks fantastic! Thank you again for coming to the LV dinner. It was wonderful to see you. Wishing you and Ron all good things in the years to come. xo

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