Zuppa Inglese, a delicious Italian Glass Dessert

on April 29, 2022

Zuppa inglese (Italian trifle) is a very famous dessert, classified among the typical pastry specialties of Emilia Romagna and has become an Italian classic with regional variations. Preparing zuppa inglese is not difficult at all. By making the two bases ahead of time, it will be amazingly easy to assemble and serve as a dessert on a special day! It is difficult to resist this creamy dessert made of layers of sponge cake (or ladyfingers biscuits) soaked in Alchermes, with a sweet and light chocolate custard cream alternating with vanilla-flavored cream, topped with powder cocoa.

Typical to Italian regional cuisine, there are countless variations. In Emilia-Romagna, the Italian liquor Alchermes is used to douse the sponge cake, layered with chocolate and vanilla pastry cream. A Roman version introduces candied fruits, whereas in Naples, a ricotta mixture replaces the custard.

But here let's discover the typical recipe of Zuppa Inglese!


Zuppa Inglese Glass Dessert
Preparation: 50 minutes Cooking: 40 minutes Difficulty: Medium - Portions: 4 persons - Cost: Low


Ingredients for a 7-inch round sponge cake

Ingredients for the pastry cream

  • Whole milk 1.6 cups
  • Heavy cream ½ cup
  • Egg yolks 0.3 cup - (about 4 medium eggs)
  • Cornstarch (or potato Starch) 0.3 cup
  • Sugar 0.6 cup
  • Vanillin 1 sachet
  • Dark chocolate ½ cup

To decorate

  • Alchermes ½ cup
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder to taste

To prepare the zuppa inglese start by making the sponge cake.
Pour the eggs into a bowl at room temperature and beat them with a whisk while adding the sugar a little at a time. Continue for about ten minutes or until the mixture becomes clear and frothy: you can also do the "writing" test by lifting a spoonful of the mixture and letting it drip as if you were tracing letters with it. Next, place a strainer in the bowl and pour in the flour and potato starch.

Fold in the dry ingredients with gentle upward movements, making sure that no residue is left on the bottom of the bowl. Pour the dough into a previously buttered and floured 7-inch round mold. Level the surface with a rubber spatula and bake in a preheated oven, in static mode at 320°F for about 40 minutes, placing the drip pan on the lower shelf (not in contact with the base); leave to cool and then remove from the pan.

Preparation of the pastry cream and assembly

Meanwhile, prepare the pastry cream. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, scrape the vanilla seeds, keeping them aside, from the pod and place the pod into the saucepan. Let it warm up to just under the boiling point. In the meantime, pour the vanilla seeds on the yolks, add the sugar, beat quickly and then sift in the corn starch. By now the milk and cream should be hot, so discard the pod and pour a couple of ladles into the egg mixture to dilute it. Then pour into the pan and stir with a whisk while cooking for a few minutes. As soon as the cream thickens, you can turn off the heat.

Divide the cream into two bowls and pour the chocolate into one. Take advantage of the fact that the cream is still very hot to help you dissolve it, then cover both creams with plastic wrap and let them cool down.

Take the cooled pan di Spagna (sponge cake), use 2 oz of it, cut it into vertical slices 1/4-inch thick and trim to fit into 4 glasses of 2/3 cup capacity. Soak the sponge cake with alchermes and proceed by pouring a little chocolate cream first and then the vanilla cream. Tap the glass to distribute the cream evenly and continue layering with soaked sponge cake and the two types of cream. Level the surface with a spatula and repeat for the other glasses. Finally put them in the refrigerator to settle for at least a couple of hours. Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa on your glasses of zuppa inglese before serving and enjoy your dessert!

Our Tip

If you don’t have enough time to prepare the sponge cake you can use ladyfingers or Pavesini Biscuits instead of. Yum!

Buy the Ingredients for this Recipe on Pinocchio's Pantry



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