Italian Cake's Italian Dessert

How to make Zuccotto al Cioccolato

Here is an amazing dessert the Zuccotto al Cioccolato. Zuccotto: [zoo-KOHT-toh] thought to have been inspired by the cupola of Florence, Italy’s, Duomo (the city’s main cathedral), this dome-shaped dessert begins with a bowl lined with liqueur-moistened cake (usually pound cake or pan di spagna) slices.


Picture by Giallo Zafferano


The bowl is then filled with a mixture of sweetened whipped cream, chopped or grated chocolate and various chopped nuts before being topped with additional cake slices.

The zuccotto is refrigerated at least a day so the filling can set. It’s inverted onto a plate before being served.

Source: The New Food Lover’s Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst


Serving: Makes 8-10 servings


  • 1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, crushed
  • 1 recipe Pan di Spagna OR you may use a large store-bought plain pound cake
  • Italian Brandy, such as Grappa Brandy *(see note below), for sprinkling on the Pan di Spagna or pound cake slices


  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar



To Assemble:
Prepare 1 recipe Pan di Spagna sliced into thin vertical slices OR you may use a store-bought large pound cake, sliced into thin vertical slices.

1. To Make the Filling:
Place chocolate in mixing bowl. Bring cream to a boil, pour over chocolate and let stand 2 minutes; whisk until very smooth. Refrigerate, stirring often, until cool but not hard.

2. Meanwhile, butter a 1 1/2-quart bowl and line with plastic wrap. Line prepared bowl with pieces of Pan di Spagna (or pieces of pound cake),overlapping pieces slightly; set aside unused pieces of cake to use later. Sprinkle cake pieces lining bowl with brandy and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

3. When chocolate mixture is cool, combine egg whites and sugar in a clean, dry bowl of electric mixer and whisk over, not in, a pan of simmering water until egg whites are hot to the touch and sugar is dissolved. (Rub some of egg white and sugar mixture between your fingertips; if it feels grainy, continue to whisk and stir until it feels smooth and slippery.) Attach bowl to mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until cool.

4. To Assemble:
Place cooled chocolate mixture in mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat briefly to lighten. Fold in almonds and hazelnuts. Fold in meringue just until incorporated. Pour and scrape into cake-lined bowl and cover completely with remaining pieces of cake. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least several hours but preferably overnight.

5. To Serve:
Invert a platter or cake stand on the mold and invert the cake on to the platter. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Dust cake with cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar and slice and serve immediately.

Makes 8-10 servings.


You may substitute rum, orange-liqueur, or a spirit of your choosing for the Italian brandy to moisten the sponge cake. For the best results, prepare the dome cake 1 day ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.


Meet Anita Augello – The woman behind all of these Italian favorites.

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