Featured in our Holiday 2019 Food + Entertaining article, Dessert Party, Zuccotto cake is a real showstopper and so delicious!
One option is to just make the filling and toppings from this recipe, layered and served in a bowl like a trifle. But the cake itself is a real showstopper and so delish!
- For the vanilla sponge cake (makes one 11-by-17 sheet and one 9-inch round):
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
3⁄4 cup cornstarch
6 large eggs, separated
1 1⁄2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3⁄4 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
- For the syrup:
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup framboise or other raspberry liqueur (If omitting liqueur, substitute 1⁄4 cup water.)
- For the filling:
2 cups chilled heavy cream
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- For the filling and topping:
4 ounces hazelnuts, plus more for garnish
4 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars, such as Skor or Heath, plus more for garnish
1 pint raspberries, plus more for garnish
- For the chocolate ganache icing (makes 1 1/2 cups):
9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
- For the vanilla bean crème anglaise sauce (makes 2 cups):
4 large egg yolks
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until skins begin to split, about 10 minutes. Rub warm nuts vigorously with a clean kitchen towel to remove skins. Return to baking sheet; toast until fragrant and golden brown, about 1 minute more. Cool, coarsely chop, and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and liqueur if using. Bring to a boil; stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; set aside to cool completely. Line a 9-by-5-inch domed metal or glass bowl with plastic wrap.
- Make the vanilla sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 11- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet and a 9-inch diameter round cake pan. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, and butter again. Flour the pans and set aside. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, vanilla, and 3⁄4 cup sugar on high until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Transfer egg yolk mixture to a large bowl. Wash and dry the mixer bowl and the whisk attachment. Combine the egg whites and salt in the mixer bowl, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Continue beating until stiff and glossy, about 1 minute. Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. In three additions, fold the reserved flour mixture into the egg mixture. Transfer two-thirds of the batter to the baking sheet, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Transfer remaining batter to the round cake pan; smooth the top with the spatula. Bake until light golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool; turn out the cakes, remove the parchment paper, and wrap in plastic wrap until ready to use.
- Cut rectangular sponge cake into thirds crosswise and lengthwise, making 9 rectangles. Reserve round sponge cake layer to use on top. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half, forming 18 triangles. Brush both sides of each triangle with some syrup. Line inside of bowl with triangle slices, pointed ends facing bottom of bowl, to form a sunburst pattern. Fit slices snugly so bowl is completely lined. Use small pieces of syrup-brushed cake to fill in gaps. Trim the round cake top to make it even and set aside. Transfer lined bowl to refrigerator.
- Make the filling: Place cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium until stiff, about 3 minutes. Gently fold in reserved nuts, toffee, and raspberries. Remove lined bowl from refrigerator, fill with cream mixture, and cover top with cake round. This will become the bottom of the zuccotto when unmolded. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
- Make the chocolate ganache icing: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to appear around edges (scalding); pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set aside at room temperature until cool but pourable, stirring occasionally.
- Make the vanilla bean crème anglaise sauce: Make an ice water bath: Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Place milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean and seed scrapings in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Whisk about 1⁄3 cup of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper it. Return this mixture to the saucepan.
Cook crème anglaise over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Discard vanilla bean, then strain the crème anglaise into a medium metal bowl. Place the bowl over the ice bath to chill until ready to serve. Store in an airtight plastic container, refrigerated, up to 4 days.
- Finish the cake: Place a wire rack on top of bowl, and invert zuccotto onto rack. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove bowl and plastic wrap. Using a ladle, pour ganache over top of dome, letting excess drip down sides onto rack. Make sure to coat entire surface of the zuccotto. Cut into wedges. Ladle with creme anglaise. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped toffee, nuts, and berries.
- Recipe from Martha Stewart Living, December 2001
- To Make Ahead: The vanilla sponge cakes can be made ahead, cooled completely, and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw completely at room temperature before using.