English Trifle is prepared in a “suppiera”, a porcelain bowl used to serve soup, la zuppa, or in a 3 quart decorative stem glass bowl, for an impressive
In Sicily it is called “un dolce da cucchiara” because
it is dished out “with
a spoon”, “la cucchiara”.
The origin of this mouth-watering and easy to
prepare dessert is claimed by every Italian region, and each city asserts the birthplace of the zuppa
One of the most accepted assumption gives to the
region Emilia Romagna the origin of this cake.
Although the chocolate was added in later days, la
zuppa alla Ferrarese was made with biscuits inzuppati, meaning
dipped in sweet wine or rosolio, layered with cream and placed in
a soup bowl to mold into a dome.
Neapolitans claim that this cake was first made in
Naples in 1798, to celebrate General Nelson’s victory in Egypt over Napoleon; their zuppa inglese is made with ricotta cream and maraschino liquor is used
to dunk the lady fingers.
And of course… in Sicily it is asserted the real
origin of the English trifle, arguing that it was prepared for the large colony of English living in the
Island and for the many tourists visiting Sicily.
The components of the contemporary version of this
cake are few: vanilla and chocolate custard cream, lady finger biscuits or sponge, syrup, whipped cream and
The syrup is made with alkemes, which is aromatic
liquor, mostly used in bakeries to flavor cakes and pastries; its red glow creates an attractive contrast
with the yellow of the vanilla and with the chocolate custard.
It is important to rest the
zuppaovernight in the refrigerator, to allow
that the cream, sponge and syrup blend in one soft and sweet-smelling component to gratify your taste, delight your
smell and please your eyes.
- 1 portion custard cream (
- 3 oz. bitter sweet chocolate, cut up in small pieces
- 30 lady fingers or 1 ¼ lbs.
sponge cake(cut into slices half inch
- ¾ cup Alkemes liquor
- ½ cup sugar
- orange peels
- 2 cups whipped cream (canned pure whipped cream is
bitter-sweet chocolate shavings
Bowl 9 inches wide, lined with plastic wrap film, or a
3 quart decorative stemmed glass
Shallow dish to dip the lady finger biscuits or sponge cake into the liquor.
Prepare the custard cream one day ahead.
When the custard cream is cooked, place half of a portion in a container; mix and blend into the
other half, the chopped chocolate and place in another
Cover the surface of both containers with wax paper or plastic wrap film and store in the refrigerator until ready
The Soaking Alkemes Syrup
Bring to a boil 1 cup of water with some orange peels; remove from heat,
discard peels and add ½ cup of sugar. When it is cold, add ¾ cup of Alkemes or Alchermes liquor.
If Alkemes is not available, add to the syrup ¼ cup grenadine (raspberry syrup)
and ¼ cup of orange liquor or ¼ cup of
vodka, or use ¼ cup of your preferred liquor.
Pour a small
amount of liquor-syrup in the shallow dish and soak briefly the lady fingers on one side (one at a time), and place them into the bowl lined
with plastic wrap, liquor wetted side down, to cover entire bottom and side of the bowl.
Fold into the vanilla custard cream a full tablespoon of whipped cream and spread it to cover the surface of the
Top the vanilla cream with a layer of lady fingers soaked on one side; cover with the chocolate custard and spread
on top of the chocolate cream a full tablespoon of whipped cream.
Finish with lady finger (dry) and drizzle some syrup on top.
Refrigerate cake for at least two hours, even better overnight, to give enough time for the syrup
to softer and blend with the lady
fingers or the sponge.
To finish, place the dome shaped cake upside down on a
serving dish, remove plastic lining and coat the cake with a layer of whipped cream.
Return to refrigerator until ready to serve.
the top with crumbled, left over lady fingers or decorate with chocolate shavings or melted chocolate.
The Trifle in a Glass
bottom of the glass bowl with slices of lady fingers or sponge to cover it.
brush or drizzle some syrup on the biscuits or sponge; fold into the vanilla custard cream
a full tablespoon of whipped cream and spread it to cover the lady fingers or sponge.
Cover with a layer of lady finger biscuits, lightly brush or drizzle some syrup, top with the chocolate
cream and spread on top of the chocolate a full tablespoon
of whipped cream.
with lady finger biscuits and brush or drizzle with some syrup on top.
Refrigerate cake for at least two hours, even better overnight, to give
enough time for the syrup to soften and
blend with the lady fingers or the sponge.
To finish, coat the cake with a layer of whipped cream and garnish with
crumbled left over lady fingers or sponge cake and with chocolate shavings.