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Zuccotto is not a member of the zucchini gourd family. Zucchini is a popular mealtime favorite usually stuffed with mozzarella, herbs, ricotta, and anything else that makes it tastier. On the other hand, zuccotto is a Tuscan chilled dessert that originated in Florence and is still chasing the likes of tiramisu to become a major holiday dessert. This Florentine specialty is dome-shaped, with layered cream-filled sponge/pound cake, brandy-soaked and filled with fruits like raspberries, strawberries and almonds. Often the calorie-rich dessert is covered with a chocolate glaze. It needs no baking.

Nonstick cooking spray
1 12 oz. Loaf pound cake
¼ C. Brandy
5 oz. Chopped bittersweet chocolate
2 C. Chilled whipping cream
½ tsp. Pure almond extract
¼ C. Powdered sugar
½ C. Sliced almonds
Crumbled, unsweetened cocoa powder

Spray a 1 ½ qt. bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bowl with plastic wrap. Cut pound cake crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices. Cut each slice diagonally in half, forming 2 triangles. Line bottom and sides of prepared bowl with cake triangles. Brush some brandy over cake triangles lining the bowl. Reserve extra triangles. Stir the chocolate in large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Allow chocolate to cool slightly. Use an electric mixer and beat 1 C. of cream in another bowl until thick and fluffy. Fold ¼ of whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold half of the remaining whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread chocolate cream over cake, covering completely and creating a center well. Cover and refrigerate if not assembling cake right away. In another clean bowl, add remaining 1 C. of cream and almond extract. Using electric mixer with clean beaters, beat on medium speed and gradually add powdered sugar. Beat until firm peaks form. Fold in the nuts. Spoon the cream mixture into the center of the well of the filling. Brush the remaining cake slices with brandy and arrange them, brandy side down, over the cake, covering the filling completely and trimming to fit. Cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Invert cake onto a platter. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Sift the cocoa powder over and serve.