Pumpkin-Shaped Cream and Sponge Dessert (Zuccotto)

This rich dessert makes a superb ending to a dinner party, and can be made ahead of time, if you prefer.


600 ml (1 pint) 2 1/2 cups Double (heavy) cream, stiffly beaten
25 g (1 oz plus 2 Tbs) 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs Icing (confectioners') Sugar
50 g (2 oz) 1/2 cup Hazelnuts, toasted
225 g (8 oz) 2 cups Fresh cherries, halved and stoned (pitted)
124 g (4 oz) 4 squares Dark dessert (semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped or grated
50 ml (2 fl oz) 1/4 cup Brandy
50 ml (2 fl oz) 1/4 cup Orange-flavoured liqueur
2 x 20 cm (2 x 8 in) Chocolate sponge cakes, halved horizontally
2 Tbs Cocoa powder


1. Combine the cream and 25 g (1 oz) (1/4 cup) of icing (confectioners') sugar in a bowl. Fold in the hazelnuts, cherries and chocolate and chill the mixture in the refrigerator.

2. Mix together the brandy and orange-flavoured liqueur.

3. Line a 1 1/4 litres (2 pint) 1 1/4 quart pudding basin with three-quarters of the sponge, cutting it into pieces so that it fits the shape of the basin. Sprinkle the brandy mixture over the sponge lining. Spoon the cream mixture into the sponge cake, then use the remaining sponge to cover the top. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

4. Remove from the refrigerator and run a knife around the edge of the pudding to loosen it. Invert a serving plate over the basin and, holding the two together, reverse them. The zuccotto should slide out easily.

5. Sprinkle half of the remaining icing (confectioners') sugar over one-quarter of the pudding and half the cocoa powder over a second quarter, then repeat these over the other half of the pudding so that the zuccotto has four alternating segments of colour.

6. Serve at once.

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