I know, I know. Most of you are in detox mode after the decadent excess of holiday eating. But if you're like me, there's still a panettone or pandoro lurking in your pantry somewhere. I tucked the extra panettone in the freezer and will pull it out later this winter for this warm, boozy bread pudding that's always appreciated on a cold day in February. But the pandoro was put to good use last weekend in this zuppa inglese. (Side note - My darn computer's spell check keeps changing zuppa inglese to "cuppa ingress," whatever that is!)
Anyhoo, you don't even need a pandoro for this dessert. You just need a sponge cake - something you could make or pick up at the bakery.
Traditional zuppa inglese has layers of liqueur-soaked sponge cake, interspersed with pastry cream, and topped with whipped cream. I didn't leave out the whipped cream on top, but this version uses ricotta cream instead of pastry cream, something you'd find in a lot of Neapolitan desserts, hence the "all Napoletana" in the name.
I don't normally trim the outer "crust" of a pandoro, but in this case I did. Just because I thought it would look nicer through the glass bowl. But first slice the cake in horizontal layers, then trim the crusts.
I made about five layers, each about 1 inch thick.
Place the first layer in a bowl, filling in the circumference with smaller pieces you cut from the larger ones. Drizzle the simple syrup and liqueur mixture over the top once it's in the bowl.
Mix the ricotta, sugar and chocolate bits together.
Spread the ricotta mixture in between each layer of cake, drizzling each cake layer with more simple syrup and liqueur.
Top the whole thing with whipped cream and decorate with chocolate curls.
It tastes pretty good right away, but if you leave it in the refrigerator overnight, it's even better, since the liqueur and simple syrup have more time to permeate the cake.
And if you've still got some bits of cake and leftover ricotta that won't fit into that big bowl, make a mini zuppa inglese just for you and someone special.
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Zuppa Inglese Alla Napoletana
1 large Pandoro, or slices of sponge cake
3 pounds ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup rum
3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped into bits
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Slice the Pandoro into four or five horizontal slices, then trim the "crusts." Place one layer in a glass bowl, and cut pieces to fit the circumference of the bowl.
With a wooden spoon, mix the ricotta cheese with the sugar and chocolate.
Make a simple syrup by boiling the water with the sugar. Remove from heat once the sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then add the rum.
Drizzle the syrup liberally over the cake layer, then spread some of the ricotta filling over the cake.
Continue layering the cake, drizzling the syrup and spreading the ricotta until you get almost to the top of the bowl. I used three layers of cake and two layers of ricotta.
Whip the cream with the confectioners' sugar, then spread the whipped cream over the last ricotta layer. Shave some chocolate over the top to decorate.