Tuesday, October 8

Zuccotto - The Ultimate Cake!


This cake is an ancient cake, prepared the first time by the famous architect Bernardo Buontalenti of Florence. Zucca means pumpkin on Italian and this cake is usually made in pumpkin shaped mould. It also resembles the famous Dome of Florence’s Cathedral where it originated.
Many recipes were created and are called “Zuccotto”, but what one zuccotto should and must have is dome shape, one outside thin layer of Genoa cake (recipe on my page-Cakes, under WhiteChocolate Ice cream Cow Cake), moisten with amaretto or similar liquor, couple of layers of filling parallel to outside cake where one is made from ricotta and chopped nuts. If you don’t have this Italian pumpkin mould, you can easily make it in any midsized bowl.
I make this cake usually for some festive events, and this time it was my daughter's birthday. 
Taste of this cake, no mater what variation you use is great, or as italians would say Incredibile!!
Zuccotto variations:

Zuccotto Tradizionale
If you ask for a zuccotto in a restaurant, it will usually have a creamy filling with chocolate and candied fruit. Simple and tasty.
Zuccotto al Caffè
A simple, creamy dessert incredebly tasty on a hot day.
Zuccotto alle Fragole
Strawberries dominate this Zuccotto!
Zuccotto di Riso
This sweet rice zuccotto is a bit different -- no cake lining -- but is still very much a zuccotto.

Here is the best variety of Zuccotto cake recipes that I have found along with my own recipe:

Simple Zuccotto fiorentino - Florentine Zuccotto

Genoa cake (200 g)
Whipped cream (250 ml)
Ricotta (cottage cheese) 300 g
Chopped roasted hazelnuts 100 g
One bar of bitter chocolate chopped 50 g
Icing sugar 3 tbsp or more (to your taste)
Bitter cacao (powder) 30 grams
Amaretto Liquor or similar liquor

Whip the cream in a bowl, add the sugar, the ricotta and mix well; divide the mixture into two parts, mince in little pieces the bitter chocolate bar and nuts and add it in one of the two parts (you can also add candied fruit). Into the second part mix the cacao powder.
Cut the sponge cake in rectangular slices (5 x 10 x 2 cm) and soak them with liquors, line with the slices a mould for zuccotto or even a bowl, coat all with the black cream, in the centre put the white cream, cover all with more slices of soaked sponge cake. Keep into the refrigerator several hours. You can also us the freezer but you have to take out the cake one hour before eating.
A zuccotto is a tasty summer dessert – well chilled, but it can be made in any other season or event as well. It looks impressive and it's easy to make.

Coffee Zuccotto - Zuccotto al Caffè


1 pound (450 g) prepared Genovese, pan di Spagna, or pound cake
1 3/5 cup (400 ml) heavy cream
3 tbsps instant coffee
3 tbsps coffee liqueur
Chocolate drops
2 tbsps cocoa
A 7-inch (18 cm) hemispherical bowl

Cut the cake lengthwise into half-inch (1 cm) thick slices and cut each in half on a slant to obtain so many triangles. Line the bowl with the triangular slices, putting the points in the center, and when you have finished brush the cake with the coffee liqueur.

Combine the cream and the instant coffee in a bowl and whip them to firm peaks. Fill the mold with the cream, spooning in a layer, covering it with slices of cake brushed with coffee liqueur, adding more cream with some chocolate bits, another layer of cake, and so on until you have used everything up, finishing with a layer of cake.

Chill the zuccotto for 6 hours. To unmold the zuccotto dip the mold into hot water, set a plate over it, and flip both so the zuccotto comes to rest on the plate. Dust the zuccotto with the cocoa, and serve.

Strawberry Zuccotto - Zuccotto alle Fragole


1 pound (450 g) commercially prepared Genovese, pan di Spagna, or pound cake
2 2/5 cups (600 ml) heavy cream
1 3/4 pounds (800 g) strawberries, washed, drained and hulled
15 grams of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup (50 g) powdered sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar

To Garnish :
2/5 cup heavy cream
Several strawberries

A hemispherical bowl 7-8 inches (18-20 cm) in diameter.

Slice the cake into half-inch (1 cm) slices.

Quarter the strawberries and put them in a bowl with the granulated sugar. Let them rest for 15 minutes, and while they are resting slice the cake into half-inch thick (1 cm) slices), and use some of them to line the bowl.

Drain the juice from the strawberries into a small saucepan and stir a tbsp of water into them. Squeeze the excess water from the sheets of fish glue and add them to the strawberry juice in the saucepan. Heat gently, stirring gelatin and use enough to thicken the volume of cream, dissolving it per the instructions on the package in the strawberry juice.

Whip the cream to fairly firm peaks, fold the strawberry gelatin into it, and then incorporate the strawberries.

Fill the bowl with the strawberry cream, smooth the filling with a spatula, and cover it with more slices of cake. Chill the zuccotto for at least 6 hours or the best over the night.

Come serving time, dip the mold in hot water, cover it with a serving plate and flip both; when you remove the bowl the zuccotto will remain on the plate. Whip the remaining cream and put it in a pastry bag with a starburst nozzle and decorate your cake.

Zuccotto di riso – Rice pudding cake
Most zuccotti are made with a creamy filling that's put into a bowl lined with pasta Genovese (or pound cake) and chilled well. Here, instead, is a combination of rice and crema pasticcera, or pastry cream. The effect is different, but equally good, and as is the case with other zuccotti the recipe is easy and results impressive. It’s like rice pudding cake!


For the Zuccotto:
1/2 cup (100 g) short-medium grained rice
2 4/5 cups (700 ml) milk
2/5 cup (100 ml) heavy cream
3 yolks, lightly beaten
The grated zest of 2 organically grown lemons
1/4 cup (50 g) unsalted butter, in bits
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp Maraschino liqueur
A pinch of Salt

To Decorate the Zuccotto :
2 ounces (50 g) candied orange peel, finely diced
2 ounces (50 g) candied citron, finely diced
2/5 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp fruit jam (as you prefer; apricot is the best here)
A candied cherries

Combine the milk with the grated lemon zest and a pinch of salt in a saucepot and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the rice and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed all the milk.

When the rice is done remove the pot from the stove and let it cool. Work the butter, yolks and maraschino into the rice. Whip the cream and fold it into the rice mixture. Use the filling to fill a hemispherical pudding mold and chill it in the refrigerator for few hours.

In the meantime, prepare the decorations: Dice the candied fruit. Combine the jam and a tbsp of water in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the mixture is homogeneous. Whip the remaining cream and put it in a pastry bag with a starred nozzle.

To unmold the zuccotto dip the mold into hot water, set a plate over it, and flip both so the zuccotto comes to rest on the plate. Brush the zuccotto with the diluted jam, sprinkle it with the candied citron and orange, and lay a ring of whipped cream around the base, and also at the very top, to serve as a bed for the candied cherry.

               Amaretto Cream Filled Cake (Zuccotto Ripieno)

1 Sponge/Genoa Cake
1/2 c Hazelnuts
1/4 c Amaretto
1/4 c Light rum
1 1/3 c Whipping cream
1/3 c Powdered sugar
1/3 c Almonds; blanched, chopped, toasted
1 oz Unsweetened chocolate chopped

Bake hazelnuts in ungreased baking pan at 400~ for 5 minutes or until skins begin to crack. Wrap hazelnuts in clean towel. Let stand 2 minutes. Rub hazelnuts in towel to remove skins. Chop hazelnuts. Return to baking pan. Bake about 8 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool. Cut 4-inch circle from cake. Cut remaining cake into 1-inch pieces. Mix together amaretto and rum and sprinkle over cake. Line large bowl with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Butter waxed paper. Place cake circle on bottom of bowl. Line side of bowl with three-fourths of the cake pieces. Beat together whipping cream and powdered sugar in chilled medium bowl until stiff. Fold in hazelnuts, almonds and chocolate. Spoon filling into cake-lined bowl. Place remaining cake pieces on filling. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours. Invert onto serving plate. Remove bowl and waxed paper. Sprinkle with additional grated chocolate if desired.

Zuccotto with safron
Because one has to extract the flavor from the saffron by soaking it for 24 hours in cream (which works better than water, milk, or alcohol), this particular zuccotto takes 2 days to make.

A zuccotto is even easier if you start with commercially prepared sponge/genoa cake. However, I always prefer my own and recently I started to make it with almond meal instead of regular flour.

The Cake:
2 eggs
5 tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup (80 g) flour
1 tbsp butter melted
2 tsp flour to flour the pan

The Filling:
1 pint (500 ml) heavy cream
A pinch of saffron (.5 grams)
3/4 cup icing sugar

The Syrup:
¼ cup sugar
3/5 cup (150 ml) water
A shot (30 ml, or 2 tbsps) of amaretto liqueur
Pour about a half cup of cream into a jar, adding the saffron pistils, covering the jar, giving it a good shake to sink it, and leave it in the fridge.

Next make the sponge cake -- a Genovese -- by beating the eggs and sugar over a double boiler, beating constantly until the mixture reached a temperature of 50 C (about 120 F) over a double boiler.

Cool the mixture by putting the top half of the double boiler in a pot of cold water, whipping constantly, and then added the flour in one fell swoop and continued to whisk the mixture for several minutes, until it looked right. At this point he gently folded in the butter, and turned the batter out into a 10-inch (25 cm) ring pan lined with oven parchment, and buttered and floured.

Bake the cake in a preheated 380 F (190 C) oven for 20 minutes, and turn it out on a rack to cool. Because the saffron had to soak, everything else happened the next day.
Come time to assemble the zuccotto -- in this case the next day, when the saffron had released its essence into the cream, turning it a pretty charged yellow -- begin by lining the bowl, which should be about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and hemispherical.

Cut the cake into two layers and set one aside. Cut the other into thin strips.
Line the bowl with the strips, using smaller pieces to fill in voids. When the bowl is lined, make the filling: combine the cream and powdered sugar and beat them until soft and fluffy. Spoon the mixture into the bowl, smoothed it with a spatula, and covered it with a round of cake cut from the layer that had been set aside.

Leave it to chill for 2 hours.
Before unmolding the zuccotto, make a syrup by heating the sugar and water together, stirring gently until the sugar had completely dissolved.

Add amaretto liqueur and brushed the base of the zuccotto with the syrup (lightly, the cake shouldn't be soaked). Put a serving plate over the bowl, flip both, and remove the bowl to free the zuccotto

My zuccotto with pistachio and cream filling

Almond cake:
2 cups almond meal
3 eggs separated
5 tbsp sugar

Chocolate mousse:
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
100g melted dark chocolate
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beet yolks and mix with melted chocolate and cocoa. Add whipped egg whites and vanilla.

Ricotta filling:
Whipped cream (120 ml)
Ricotta cheese 200 g
Chopped roasted hazelnuts 50 g
Orange or lemon peel chopped
One bar of bitter chocolate chopped 50 g
5 tbsp icing sugar

Whip the cream whit icing sugar, add ricotta and mix well. Add nuts, orange peel and chocolate and let it sit in a fridge until later.

Pistachio filling:
100 g finely ground pistachios
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
1 tsp flour
5 tbsp sugar
½ cup milk

Make pastry filling with whipped egg yolks and sugar. Add flour. Heat milk and add in and cook egg yolk mix until is stiff by mixing regularly. Add pistachios and mix little bit more. Take of the stove and cool. Adjust sweetness.
CAKE ASSEMBLING: Mix egg yolks with sugar in one bowl and egg withes in the other. Add almond meal in yolks and combine with whipped egg whites. Bake in round cake pan on 180C/350 F for about 15 minutes. Take out and cool, slice in two layers. Slice one layer in strips and layer your bowl. Sprinkle with amaretto liquor.
Put chocolate mousse first and insert smaller bowls in the middle and freeze so that you can get empty space in the center for other two fillings. When is frozen after few hours, take out, take out small bowl and add ricotta filling. Create space in the center to pour in pistachio filling. Cover with other cake layer and cool overnight.
Cut and serve! Incredibile!!!

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