Friday, May 24 2024

Zuppa inglese is a spoon dessert that originated in Emilia Romagna but is now known and loved throughout Italy, so much so that over time it has become one of the symbols of our homemade pastries.

Easy and quick to prepare, zuppa inglese now counts several variants, although the original version, the one we present today, consists of layers of fluffy sponge cake soaked in alchermes-sometimes replaced by rosolio or rum-which gives them their typical red coloring, and interspersed with classic and chocolate custard.

Following the traditional recipe, we prepared the sponge cake at home, but when you are short on time you can buy it ready-made or, for a quick, no-bake version, replace it with savoiardi, bought or homemade.

Creamy and flavorful, with its unmistakable taste, zuppa inglese will please everyone: you can serve it in classic glass cups or in special dessert cups to make scenic single-portion dishes, or even compose it in a single pan as we did in zuppa inglese with cookies.

Find out how to prepare it by following step-by-step procedure and tips, it is ideal to serve as an end-of-meal dessert at a family Sunday lunch or a dinner with friends, but also for parties and special occasions, and it is perfect to prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator or freeze to have it always ready.







For 7 inch sponge cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of vanilla extract

For the custard cream:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1+1/4 cups of milk
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch

For the syrup:

  • alchermes, rosolio or rum to taste



Start preparing the trifle from the sponge cake: first whip the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract with electric whips.

Then add sifted flour and starch and mix gently with a spatula to incorporate them without disassembling the mixture , which should eventually be smooth and free of lumps.

Pour the dough into a buttered and floured 7-inch mold and bake at 320 F for 30-35 minutes on the lowest shelf of the oven.

Remember not to open the oven door for the first 20 minutes, otherwise the sponge cake may deflate.

Finally, check the baking by doing the toothpick test, which should come out dry.


When the surface appears golden brown, take the sponge cake out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

How to prepare the custard

While the sponge cake cools devote yourself to the custard: in a saucepan combine cream and milk, add 1 tsp of vanilla extract, put on the heat and bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl mix sugar and egg yolks with a hand whisk.


Now add the cornstarch and then the boiling milk and cream over the mixture, continuing to mix with the whisk.

Finally transfer the mixture to the saucepan, let it thicken over low heat and at the first boil remove from the heat.


Now divide the cream into two bowls and in one add the chopped dark chocolate.


Stir vigorously with a whisk so that the chocolate melts, blending perfectly with the cream.
Then cover both bowls of cream with clingfilm and let them cool.

How to compose the trifle

When it is well chilled, cut the sponge cake first into slices and then into smaller pieces so that they fit into the glasses you have chosen.

You can then begin to compose the single-portion trifle: first, arrange a piece of sponge cake at the bottom of the glass and douse it with the alchermes.


Then spread the chocolate cream, leveling it with the back of the spoon.

Proceed with a second layer of sponge cake, also doused with alchermes, then add the custard.

Continue in this way, alternating the layers of sponge cake and the two creams, until you reach the rim of the glass. Finally make the last layer with the vanilla custard.


Your zuppa inglese is ready: let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so, then sprinkle the surface with bitter cocoa powder and serve.

If you choose to use ladyfingers, dip them for a few seconds in alchermes diluted with a few tablespoons of water, similar to how you do coffee in tiramisu.

To make zuppa inglese suitable for children, you can make a nonalcoholic dipping sauce by replacing the alchermes with a syrup of water and sugar, or with milk.




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