Ricotta Zuccotto: A Classic Italian Dessert From Tuscany

Ricotta Zuccotto: A Classic Italian Dessert From Tuscany

Get ready to indulge in this mouth-watering traditional Ricotta Zuccotto cake recipe featuring a creamy ricotta filling. This delectable dessert is sure to impress your guest and become a favorite among your friends and family. Don’t wait any longer, try it out today!


You’ve just stumbled upon the most delicious Italian dessert recipe that will transport you straight to Tuscany – ricotta Zuccotto. This classic spoon dessert shaped like a half-sphere has a smooth and creamy ricotta filling that melts in your mouth. Making this Tuscan treat at home is easier than you think.

Though it requires a bit of time and patience to prepare properly, the end result of this sweet, decadent Italian custard cake is so worth it. Get ready to wow your family and friends with this iconic yet underrated Italian dessert. In this article, you’ll learn step-by-step how to make the creamiest, dreamiest ricotta Zuccotto right in your own kitchen.

The Origins of Ricotta Zuccotto in Tuscany

Zuccotto is a typical Tuscan dessert with origins dating back to an invention by the Florentine architect, sculptor and painter Bernardo Buontalenti, who lived from 1531 to 1608, for one of the Medici family banquets. This skilled architect and cook took delight in creating “wonderful” dishes that aroused wonder.

One of these was Zuccotto, which supposedly took its name, according to legends with some exaggeration, from the headgear called zuccotto used by artillery forces, a type of helmet in which Buontalenti would have prepared his dessert. Additionally, it is said its original name was “Elmo di Caterina” (Catherine’s helmet), in reference to Catherine de’ Medici, the great queen of France from the Medici family who exported many dishes of Tuscan cuisine.

Another version, perhaps more reliable, is that the name referred to the headgear of high prelates called Zuccotto due to the use of red Alkermes, with which the sponge cake was moistened.

Zuccotto Toscano recipe

Classic Tuscan Zuccotto Ingredients

Ricotta Zuccotto is a very tasty and fresh spoon dessert. The characteristic shape of the zuccotto is a half sphere and it is prepared lining the special mold with slices of sponge cake soaked with liquor, usually alchermes. If you don’t have a suitable mold you can use a normal glass or metal bowl. The classic filling is made with a simple cream based on fresh ricotta cheese, sugar, chocolate chips and whipped cream, one part is then added to cocoa powder. It is also possible to make zuccotto with other fillings, very popular is the one based on semifreddo or other types of creams or ice cream.

Here are the ingredients for this Zuccotto recipe:

For the sponge cake:

Zuccotto sponge cake ingredients
  • 4 g medium eggs
  • 130 g granulated sugar
  • 110 g all-purpose flour or 00 flour 30 g potato starch

For filling and topping:

Traditional Zuccotto ingredients
  • 650 g Ricotta cheese
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 200 ml whipping cream + more for the final decoration (optional)
  • 60 g dark chocolate chips
  • 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 50 g Alchermes liqueur – Alchermes is a sweet red-colored Italian liqueur. If you can’t find Alchermes liqueur, you can buy red food coloring and Rum or rum syrup.
  • 20 ml water

How to Make Perfect Ricotta Zuccotto

While not difficult to make, Zuccotto does require some time to prepare. The results, though, are well worth it. With its light, creamy filling and tender cake, Zuccotto is a Tuscan classic for good reason.

Tool You Will Need

Make the sponge cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the sponge cake by beating eggs with 130 g of sugar using an electric mixer until voluminous and firm, approximately 15 minutes. Gently fold in the sifted flours to avoid deflating the egg mixture. Grease a 22 cm square baking pan and add the batter. Bake for 18–20 minutes, being careful not to allow it to darken too much. Test with a toothpick and remove from oven once done. Allow the sponge cake to fully cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes after removing from the pan.

Make the ricotta cream

In a separate bowl, blend the ricotta cheese with the remaining 150 g of sugar until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In another bowl, whip the chilled heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then fold into the ricotta mixture.

NOTE – To check if your whipped cream is ready, stick a teaspoon right into the middle of it. If the spoon stands up on its own without falling over, then you’ve whipped that cream up just right. No need to keep beating it anymore!

Reserve one-third of the ricotta cream and sift in the cocoa powder, blending well. Refrigerate both mixtures for 60 minutes.

Assemble Zuccotto cake

Meanwhile, slice the cooled sponge cake into 1 cm thick slices. Line a 2-liter pudding mold or bowl with plastic wrap. Arrange slices of sponge cake in a circle inside the mold, cutting pieces to fit as needed. Make sure there are no gaps for the filling to leak through.

In a small cup, combine the Alchermes liqueur with 20 g of water. Brush the sponge cake with the mixture.

Fill the center with the plain ricotta cream, leaving a well in the center. Pour the cocoa ricotta cream into the well.

Top with remaining sponge cake slices and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Apply gentle pressure to compact the filling.

Refrigerate for at least 6–8 hours. Transfer to freezer 90 minutes before serving. To unmold, remove plastic wrap and invert onto a serving plate, removing remaining plastic.

How to make ricotta zuccotto: invert onto a serving plate

Decorate as desired and serve immediately. Slice and enjoy!

Ricotta Zuccotto: A Classic Italian Dessert From Tuscany

Classic Tuscan Zuccotto Video Recipe

Ricotta Zuccotto Recipe Tips and Tricks

When making your Zuccotto, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be very careful lining the mold with cake slices, so the filling does not leak. Press the cake firmly against the sides of the mold to seal any gaps.
  • Chill the Zuccotto for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight, to allow it to firm up before unmolding. This also allows the flavors to develop.
  • For easier unmolding, place the Zuccotto in the freezer for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours before serving. This will harden it slightly so it retains its shape better when released from the mold.

Ricotta Zuccotto Storage Instructions

After making your ricotta Zuccotto, it’s important to properly store it so you can enjoy it for days to come. As soon as you remove the Zuccotto from the freezer and unmold it, place it in an airtight container or cover it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. This classic Italian dessert will stay fresh for 3 to 4 days.

For the best quality and texture, allow the Zuccotto to sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. This will soften it to the perfect consistency. You can also top each slice with a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce, candied nuts, or fresh berries.

If you don’t plan to eat the Zuccotto within 4 days, you can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Simply place the whole Zuccotto or sliced pieces in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag and freeze. When ready to enjoy, thaw the Zuccotto in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before serving.

Ricotta Zuccotto: A Classic Italian Dessert From Tuscany

Ricotta Zuccotto: A Classic Italian Dessert From Tuscany

Ricotta Zuccotto is a very tasty and fresh spoon dessert. The characteristic shape of the zuccotto is a half sphere and it is prepared lining the special mold with slices of sponge cake soaked with liquor, usually alchermes. The classic filling is made with a simple cream based on fresh ricotta cheese, sugar, chocolate chips and whipped cream.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 people

Ingredients
  

For the sponge cake:

  • 4 g medium eggs
  • 130 g granulated sugar
  • 110 g all-purpose flour or 00 flour
  • 30 g potato starch

For filling and topping:

  • 650 g Ricotta cheese
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 200 ml whipping cream + more for the final decoration optional
  • 60 g dark chocolate chips
  • 15 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 50 g Alchermes liqueur read below for substitution
  • 20 ml water

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare the Pan di Spagna (sponge cake). Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with 130 g of sugar until voluminous and firm, about 15 minutes.
  • Gently fold in the sifted flours to avoid deflating the egg mixture.
  • Grease a 22 cm square baking pan and add the batter. Bake for 18–20 minutes, being careful not to allow it to darken too much. Test with a toothpick and remove from oven once done. After 15 minutes, remove the sponge cake from the pan and allow it to fully cool on a wire rack.
  • In a separate bowl, blend the ricotta cheese with the remaining 150 g of sugar until smooth.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • In another bowl, whip the chilled heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then fold into the ricotta mixture.
  • Reserve 1/3 of the ricotta cream and sift in the cocoa powder, blending well. Refrigerate both mixtures for 60 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, slice the cooled sponge cake into 1 cm thick slices.
  • Line a 2-liter pudding mold or bowl with plastic wrap. Arrange the sponge cake slices around the interior.
  • In a small cup, combine the alchermes liqueur with 20 g of water. Brush the sponge cake with the mixture.
  • Fill the center with the plain ricotta cream, leaving a well in the center.
  • Pour the cocoa ricotta cream into the well.
  • Top with remaining sponge cake slices and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Apply gentle pressure to compact the filling.
  • Refrigerate for at least 6–8 hours. Transfer to freezer 90 minutes before serving. To unmold, remove plastic wrap and invert onto a serving plate, removing remaining plastic.
  • Decorate as desired and serve immediately. Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

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