Making Zuppa Inglese, Italian English Trifle, Illustrated

Making Zuppa Inglese: Enjoy!

Making Zuppa Inglese: Enjoy!

Though Italian cookbooks wonder at the origins of this pudding’s name, Zuppa Inglese really is an English trifle, in other words a pudding made by interlayering cake with cream and other ingredients. It’s especially common in Tuscany, because the English who lived in the region a century ago often asked for it, but you will find it throughout the Peninsula. It can be served either chilled (which is more common), or partially frozen, though if you take that route be careful lest it freeze solid.

Zuppa Inglese is one of my Father-in-Law’s favorite desserts, and wife Elisabetta grew up watching her mother make it. Now, Daughter C watches her make it.

Making Zuppa Inglese: The Ingredients

Making Zuppa Inglese: The Ingredients

To serve 4-6 you’ll need:

  •     8 ounces (200 g) Savoiardi (see link below) or ladyfingers
  •     3 cups (750 ml) milk
  •     1/2 cup (50 g) flour
  •     1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  •     An ounce (30 g) bitter cocoa powder
  •     4 yolks
  •     1/2 cup of rum
  •     1/2 cup Alkermes or other aromatic liqueur, for example Strega or Amaretto –   Note: you can just use Alkermes
  •     Whipped cream and maraschino cherries for decoration
  •     A pretty mold (or a bowl, even) large enough to contain the ingredients
Making Zuppa Inglese: Spread Crema Over the Savoiardi

Making Zuppa Inglese: Spread Crema Over the Savoiardi

Zuppa Ingelse is a mixture of Crema Pasticcera and chocolate pudding, so begin by preparing them:

Put all but a half cup of the milk in a pot and set the pot over a very gentle flame. Beat the yolks in a deep bowl with 3/8 cup (75 g) of the sugar, and then sift in the flour, beating steadily so as to obtain a smooth, lump-free cream.

Put the remaining sugar in another pot and mix the cocoa into it, then stir a tablespoon or two of cold milk into the mixture and heat it over a low flame, being careful to avoid the formation of lumps.

Gently stir the remaining cold milk into the egg mixture, and then, stirring constantly and gently, add the hot milk to the cream. When the cream is well mixed, gently pour it back into the pot you used to heat the milk and return it to the slow burner. Heat, stirring, until it barely reaches a boil, and cook for two minutes, stirring gently. Remove the pot from the fire, pour half the cream into a bowl, and gently stir the chocolate into the remaining half so as to obtain both pastry cream and chocolate cream.

Making Zuppa Inglese: And then Chocolate...

Making Zuppa Inglese: And then Chocolate…

You can either mix the rum and Alkermes with a quarter cup of water in a bowl, brush the Savoiardi with the mixture (don’t soak them, or they will sweat out the excess later), or you can set the savoiardi in a bowl and dribble some, but not too much alkermes over them, as we did here. In either case, put a layer of savoiardi in the bottom of the mold or bowl, and cover it with a layer of crema pasticcera.

Making Zuppa Inglese: Preparing Savoiardi

Making Zuppa Inglese: Preparing Savoiardi

Another layer of Savoiardi, and then the chocolate cream, and here Elisabetta is dribbling Alkermes (a sweet, spicy liqueur said to have been developed in the kitchens of the Medici Dukes) over what will be the final layer of Savoiardi.

Making Zuppa Inglese: Crema On Top

Making Zuppa Inglese: Crema On Top

The finished Zuppa Inglese

Making Zuppa Inglese: And then Decoration!

Making Zuppa Inglese: And then Decoration!

Decorate the surface of the zuppa with some of the remaining chocolate pudding. Here Elisabetta chose a freestyle design. Cover the zuppa with aluminum foil (make sure it doesn’t touch its surface) and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

Come time to serve it, there are two options.

  • First, remove the foil, cover the mold with a serving dish and quickly flip it, so the zuppa inglese comes to rest upon the serving dish. Remove the aluminum or oiled paper you used to line the mold, and decorate the zuppa inglese with dollops of whipped cream from a pastry sack, and maraschino cherries cut in half.
  •     Second, serve the zuppa inglese directly from the mold or bowl. Less elegant, but I confess it is how we serve it.

Any Cream Left Over? Put it to Good Use!

A Mini-Zuppa

A Mini-Zuppa

If you have leftover crema pasticcera and chocolate, make mini-zuppa inglesi in pretty glasses, for example this demitasse-sized glass for those who prefer their espresso in glass as opposed to porcelain.

This recipe on a shorter page
A Neapolitan Zuppa Inglese


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Categories: Illustrated Recipes And More, Puddings and Spoon Desserts, Tuscan Cakes, Biscotti and Sweets

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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