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The Zuppa Inglese is a traditional dessert recipe which originated from the Emilia Romagna region in Italy. Its name indicates a relationship with some English recipe, probably the trifle due to its similarity in ingredients and layering. Moreover, zuppa refers to the process of dipping the sponge fingers or the sponge cake into the Alchermes – an Italian pink liqueur. So the Zuppa Inglese is no savoury soup but rather a finger-licking dessert.

Following our recent visit to Bologna and thus our tasting of the Zuppa Inglese we have prepared this dessert for today’s lunch. There are many variations to this recipe however we have tried the traditional Bolognese recipe found in the book: Il manuale di cucina bolognese of Barbara Bertuzzi.

Zuppa Inglese

Ingredients for 6 persons:

  • 75g dark fondant chocolate
  • Alchermes liqueur
  • 1 packet sponge fingers (savioardi)
  • pinch of salt

For the cream:

  • 60g flour
  • 750ml milk
  • 200g sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • rind of 1 lemon

Put the milk and the lemon rind in a saucepan and heat slowly until tepid. In a mixing bowl add the egg yolks, sugar and a pinch of salt and stir well until you obtain a creamy consistency.

Add the flour and mix well then pour in the tepid milk. Filter the mixture through a sieve into a pan and put the pan on medium-heat. Keep stirring continuously until the cream gets dense and begins to boil. Leave for another minute then turn off the heat and keep stirring for another 5 minutes.

Stirring the cream

Stirring the cream

In the meantime, dip part of the sponge fingers into the Alchermes liqueur and cover the base of a dessert dish. Keep aside 3 tablespoons of the cream and add the dark chocolate pieces to it. Melt the chocolate with the cream using the bain-marie method until the chocolate melts and blends with the cream.

Sponge-fingers dipped in Alchermes liqueur

Sponge-fingers dipped in Alchermes liqueur

Pour a layer of the warm yellow cream on the sponge fingers, top with another layer of sponge fingers, previously dipped in Alchermes. Now layer with chocolate cream and another stratus of Alchermes dipped sponge fingers and finish off with the remaining yellow cream. Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top and refrigerate before serving.

Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese

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