Zuccotto – a semifreddo delight from Florence

According to legend, zuccotto is the first semifreddo in the history of cooking and was originally made in an infantryman’s studded helmt. In the Tuscan dialect zucca means ‘head’. It was originally prepared with ricotta, glacé (candied) fruit, almonds and dark (semisweet) chocolate.

I love this dessert – it is quick and easy to make, fail-proof and always a standout. Preparation time is around 30 minutes and you need to leave 6 hours for freezing. This dessert will serve 6.

This is a recipe from Tuscany, the cookbook review of which you will find on my blog.




1 x 250-300g (9-11oz) pan di Spagna or Madeira cake

120ml (½ cup) amaretto liqueur

500ml (generous 2 cups) double (heavy) cream

80g (scant ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

50g (½ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder

4 amaretti biscuits


Line a freezerproof semi-circular mould with clingfilm (plastic wrap). Cut the cake horizontally into 2 rounds of equal thickness. Divide 1 of the rounds into 8 wedges and use to line the bottom and sides of the mould. Mix the liqueur with a little water and sprinkle it over the cake slices.

Whisk the cream in a bowl, gradually adding the sugar, until stiff peaks form. Spoon one-third of the cream into another bowl and fold in half of the unsweetened cocoa powder. Crumble the amaretti into the remaining cream and spoon into the mould, gently spreading it over the side and leaving a small hollow in the centre. Spoon the cocoa cream into the hollow and smooth the surface. Put the remaining cake round on top, cover and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Turn out the zuccotto onto a serving dish and remove and discard the clingfilm. Put the remaining unsweetened cocoa powder into a small sieve (sifter), sprinkle it over the dessert and serve immediately.


(Thanks to Phaidon Press for permission to use the recipe from Tuscany and the photograph by Edward Park – www.phaidon.com)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.


©2024 Jen Smith / Site by SuperMinimal

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account