Here is my version of the delightful Zuccotto Fiorentino; a sumptuous dome-shaped cake that serves as a perfect dessert entremet for summer gatherings and special celebrations. Inside the strawberry infused ladyfinger shell, you’ll discover layers of heavenly mousseline cream paired with juicy, fresh-ripe strawberries.
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Chronicles of Zuccotto
A tapestry of stories and legends follow this dessert. Its origins trace back to the 16th century, when it was presented during a grand banquet held in honor of Caterina de’ Medici, the esteemed wife of King Henry II of France. At that time, it was given the name “l’Elmo di Caterina” (Caterina’s Helmet). The Medici court architect, who was also an impresario of extravagant banquets and theatrical spectacles, crafted a showstopper dessert using a military helmet called Zuccotto and drew inspiration from the grand Dome of Florence. The true nature of this tale, whether fact or myth, intertwines the contributions of two Florentine luminaries: Filippo Brunelleschi and Bernardo Buontalenti.
Brunelleschi, renowned for his ingenious engineering of the iconic Dome of Florence Cathedral (Duomo di Firenze), left an indelible mark on the city’s skyline. Meanwhile, Bernardo Buontalenti, credited as the creator of the semifreddo dessert in the form of a dome, further embellished Florence’s culinary legacy as a father of gelato. The striking resemblance between these two domes has come to symbolize the rich heritage of Florence itself.
Why should you Make this Recipe?
The recipe is a perfect summer dessert that doesn’t require you to turn on the oven. It only calls for a short cooking of the custard on a stove top and making simple syrup. And that’s it. The assembled cake goes into the fridge until ready to reveal. Instead of mousseline cream whipped stabilized, Chantilly cream can be use.
Grocery list for Strawberry Zuccotto Cake
Recipe Steps at a Glance
This summer dessert recipe can be broken down into the following steps:
How to Make – Step by Step Zuccotto Cake
Make the Cream Mousseline cream
The mousseline cream is a combination of custard whipped with butter.
In a heat-resistant bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, a few tablespoons of sugar, and cornstarch until well combined.
In a saucepan, gently heat the milk until it reaches a simmer, then add the remaining sugar.
To temper the yolk mixture and prevent curdling, gradually pour a small amount of the hot milk over the yolk mixture while stirring continuously.
Continue adding the rest of the milk, pouring the combined mixture back into the saucepan through a sieve to remove any lumps.
Place the saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat and stir the mixture continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon, ensuring to reach the corners of the pan.
As the custard thickens, it will come to a gentle boil, indicated by one or two bursting bubbles. This is when you’ll know the cream is ready.
Transfer the custard to another bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap, ensuring it touches the surface of the hot custard. Allow it to cool before combining with the butter.
In a separate bowl, whip the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the mascarpone cheese and continue whipping until fluffy.
Gradually add the custard to the butter mixture, incorporating it one tablespoon at a time while continuously whipping until fully combined.
Make the strawberry dipping syrup
The ladyfinger biscuits are dry and can absorb a lot of moisture. For this recipe I make a simple strawberry infused dipping syrup to re-hydrate the cookies.
Mix sugar and water and bring it to a boil. Cut a strawberry into pieces and add to the hot syrup. Let it boil for a minute or two, turn the heat off and let the strawberries seep and masserate in the syrup.
Strain the syrup through a fine mesh and let completely cool before using.
Wash and clean the strawberries. Remove the stems. Put them on a dry towel to release the moisture. Slice them and put them aside.
Assembling and chilling the zuccotto cake
Take a metal or glass bowl and line with the plastic wrap. This step will ensure that the finished cakes comes out easily from the bowl.
To begin, rehydrate the ladyfingers by dipping them in a shallow dish filled with strawberry syrup. Gently dip the dry ladyfingers on both sides, allowing them to soak up the flavorful syrup for just a second or two. Don’t leave them in the syrup for too long.
Place the soaked ladyfingers on a separate plate. Repeat this process until all the ladyfingers have been soaked.
Now, it’s time to assemble the dessert. Carefully arrange the soaked ladyfingers along the sides and bottom of the prepared bowl. If necessary, you may need to cut the cookies to fit tightly.
Spread a generous layer of mousseline cream over the arranged cookies. Next, carefully place the strawberries on top of the cream. Create another layer by adding rehydrated biscuits, and repeat the previous steps.
To complete the cake, arrange ladyfingers on the very top, trimming them if needed to fit perfectly. Cover the zuccotto and allow it to chill for at least 6 hours, allowing the flavors to meld.
After the cake has chilled, uncover it and revert on a plate. Remove the bowl and the plastic wrap.
Finishing the cake
For this step you need whipped cream and freeze dried strawberries.
Whip the cream with sugar and a touch of vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Spread the creamy mixture evenly over the cake.
Mill the freeze dried strawberries into a powder. This will be used for an accent touches.
Craft a simple triangle-shaped stencil from baking parchment and carefully position it on top of the cream-covered cake, ensuring even placement.
Gently sift the all-natural red strawberry powder over the exposed areas of the cake. Remove the stencil to reveal a beautiful contrast design.
Ways to serve this
- Serve it chilled (from the fridge).
- Served instead of an ice cream. This can serve cake and ice cream at the same time.
- Served with extra strawberries and custard cream.
- Serve frozen as an ice cream cake.
Tips and wisdom from Cafe Osharak
This is a perfect dessert to make ahead of time. You can make it a day in advance and keep in the refrigerated until ready to serve.
You can keep the cake in the freezer and serve a frozen ice cream cake.
More No-Bake Recipes
With summer temperatures rising all over the world, it’s hard to motivate ourselves to turn on the ovens. Why not try some delightful no-bake recipes that will hit the spot? Whether you crave homemade ice cream like No churn sour cherry ice cream, want to indulge in Red Velvet Waffles, or showcase the wonderful berries of the season with Fruit Tartlets we’ve got you covered. Enjoy the nostalgia of Indoor S’Mores without the need for a campfire or indulge in the refreshing No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake. These are some of the must-try no-bake recipes for a delightful summer!
More Recipes From Cafe Osharak
If you try out this recipe, we would be delighted to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below and let us know how it turned out for you. Your feedback is important to us, and we’re always excited to learn if you found the recipe delicious and straightforward to prepare. Additionally, if you have any creative variations or ideas to enhance the recipe, we welcome your suggestions. We appreciate your support and look forward to hearing from you!
Zuccotto Fiorentino with Strawberries and Mousseline Cream
- 400 g ladyfinger 40-50 biscuits
- 1 kg strawberries
- 2 egg yolk
- 2 cup milk
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar
- 150 g butter
- 150 g mascarpone
Strawberry Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2-3 each strawberries
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 g freezer dried strawberries
- Whisk together egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch in a heat-resistant bowl.
- Gently heat milk in a saucepan until simmering, then add remaining sugar.
- Gradually pour hot milk over yolk mixture while stirring to temper the yolks.
- Pour combined mixture back into the saucepan through a sieve to remove lumps.
- Stir continuously over medium-low heat until custard thickens and gently boils.
- Transfer custard to another bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it cool.
- In a separate bowl, whip butter until smooth, then add mascarpone cheese and continue whipping until fluffy.
- Gradually add custard to the butter mixture, one tablespoon at a time, while whipping until fully combined.
Simple Strawberry Syrup:
- Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add roughly chopped strawberries and bring to a boil, and let it all boil for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve.
Assembling and Chilling the Zuccotto:
- Line a metal or glass bowl with plastic wrap.
- Dip dry ladyfingers in a shallow dish of strawberry syrup, soaking both sides briefly.
- Place soaked ladyfingers on a separate plate, repeating until all ladyfingers are soaked.
- Arrange soaked ladyfingers along the sides and bottom of the prepared bowl.
- Spread a generous layer of mousseline cream over the arranged cookies.
- Add strawberries on top of the cream.
- Repeat the layering process with the re-hydrated biscuits.
- Arrange ladyfingers on top, trimming if needed to fit.
- Cover the zuccotto and chill for at least 6 hours.
- Uncover and invert the cake onto a plate, removing the bowl and plastic wrap.