Make this chocolatey Italian dessert, then check out our classic tiramisu, Italian lemon cake and classic biscotti.

This trifle translates to English as ‘little pumpkin’, and is inspired by the dome of Florence cathedral. It is recognised by the classic pattern made by the the icing sugar and cocoa decoration. It is particularly good when served the day after it’s made. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.


  • 100g 70% dark chocolate
  • 30g blanched almonds, toasted
  • 30g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 40g icing sugar
  • ½ Italian sponge cake
  • 3 tbsp of each rum, brandy and cherry brandy
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder


  • butter, for the tin
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 200g plain white or ‘00’ Italian flour, plus extra for dusting
  • finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp dark rum


  • STEP 1

    Line a 2 litre mixing bowl with cling film and very lightly brush with oil.

  • STEP 2

    To make the cake, heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and flour a 23cm loose-bottomed, round, deep cake tin. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and creamy. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold into the egg mixture. Gradually sift in and fold in the flour. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and rum, and mix until well-blended.

  • STEP 3

    Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and well risen. turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

  • STEP 4

    Cut the cake in half horizontally (freeze the remaining half to use for another time) then trim off the top crust so you have a thin layer of sponge.

  • STEP 5

    Break half of the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and stand the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. heat until melted, then remove the bowl from the heat. Cool. Chop the remaining chocolate into small pieces.

  • STEP 6

    Roughly chop the almonds and hazelnuts. Whip the cream until it holds its shape, then mix in the chopped nuts and chopped chocolate. Divide the cream in half and add the melted chocolate to one half. Sift half of the icing sugar into each half of the cream and stir in gently. Chill in the fridge until required.

  • STEP 7

    Push the cake into the bowl so it takes on the shape of the bowl. Mix the rum, brandy and cherry brandy. Brush the cake with the rum mixture to moisten it completely and help it mould to fit the bowl firmly. Trim off any untidy edges and use your hands to get as smooth a finish as you can.

  • STEP 8

    Spoon in the white cream mixture and spread it evenly up the inside of the cavity. Fill the centre with the chocolate mixture and smooth the top. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours before serving.

  • STEP 9

    To decorate, turn the zuccotto out on to a serving plate. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper about the same size as the zuccotto when turned out. Draw 8 even wedges on it, and cut out each alternate wedge. sift icing sugar over the whole top of the zuccotto. Place the cut-out template over the top and liberally sift the cocoa over. Carefully remove the paper and you will have given the zuccotto its classic design.

Check out our best Italian dessert recipes here

Classic Tiramisu Recipe

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