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This is a delicious dessert/cake from Florence said to have been based on the dome of the city’s main cathedral. Traditionally made in a pumpkin shaped mold as zuccotto means little pumpkin but I just used a pudding basin to fit the amount of ingredients I had.

I’ve looked at so many recipes and it seems that some will say it’s a semi frozen dessert and some not frozen at all. So I guess this recipe is my version and used up lots of things I had in the fridge but I’m super happy with it so if it’s not totally traditional I’m sorry but it does make a great prepare ahead dessert.

I decided to make this because I had some cake trimmings that I wanted to use but you can make a simple sponge but you will have to let it cool before using.

Time: 1 hour (less if you are using up cake) plus chilling overnight

Serves: 8 – 10

2 pint (500ml) pudding basin


  • 65g Dark chocolate

  • 65g Double Cream

  • 8” Sponge cake (see recipe below)

  • Amaretto or alcohol of choice or a vanilla sugar syrup (see NOTE 1)

  • 300ml Double cream

  • 30g Caster sugar

  • ½ tsp Almond extract

  • 250g Riccotta

  • 75g Glace or cocktail cherries - chopped

  • 30g Glace citrus peel (NOTE 2) chopped finely

  • 30g Pistachios finely chopped

  • Cocoa powder for dusting.


  1. Break the chocolate into small bowl, heat the double cream until hot but not boiling and pour over the chocolate. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool.

  2. Slice you sponge into ½ cm (1/4 “) thick slices.

  3. Line your bowl with strips of non stick paper. I find it easier to use strips overlapping each other and the side of the bowl so its easy to remove the set zuccotto. I prefer not to use cling film!

  4. Now line the prepared bowl with sponge slices, reserving enough for the top.

  5. Brush the sponge with alcohol of choice or syrup. Set aside

  6. In a bowl whip the double cream with the sugar and almond extract until softly holding its shape.

  7. Add the ricotta and whip until smooth.

  8. Divide the cream mixture between two bowls.

  9. To one bowl stir in the cooled chocolate ganache and the chopped cherries.

  10. To the other bowl add the finely chopped glace citrus peel and chopped pistachios.

  11. Start with the chocolate mixture add to the lined basin, covering the sponge and leaving a hole in the centre.

  12. Fill the centre with the orange and pistachio mixture.

  13. Top it all off with more sponge and brush with alcohol.

  14. Chill overnight until firm.

  15. When you are ready to serve remove the zuccotto from the bowl and generously dust with cocoa powder. Keep refrigerated until required.

To make a sponge:

Base line an 8” /20cm loose bottomed sponge tin.


  • 125g Butter – softened

  • 125g Caster sugar

  • 2 large eggs – lightly whisked

  • 130g Self raising flour

  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C Fan 180C conventional

  2. Whisk together the butter and sugar until combined

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until just combined

  4. Place in the tin and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. iT will be much easier to slice if you pop it in the fridge to cool and firm up.


Simple Vanilla syrup

Place 100ml of water and 100ml of sugar into a saucepan, heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, simmer for 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Stir in 1 tsp of vanilla extract and set aside.


Glace citrus peel

I know this is easy to find in the UK but more difficult in the US so here’s a simple way of making it.


  • 1 large orange

  • Caster sugar


  1. Peel the orange. If the white pith is particularly thick try and remove some of it as it can be bitter but you don’t need to get rid of all of it.

  2. Very finely dice the peel and place in a small saucepan.

  3. Now squeeze the juice from the orange, this gets messy as it hard to do once the peel has been removed.

  4. Weigh the juice, whatever it weighs you need the same amount of sugar.

  5. Add juice and sugar to the saucepan and heat very gently stirring occasionally. It will take about 20 minutes for most of the moisture to have evaporated and the sugar to have softened the orange peel. Take care not to burn it.

  6. Turn out onto some non stick paper or a plate and allow to cool completely.

  7. You can use this in desserts, Christmas mincemeat or cake.

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