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Zuccotto: a Florentine semi frozen cake recipe


Zuccotto was one of the first Italian “semifreddi” or semi-frozen cakes. It was first made in Florence during the Renaissance. The Medici family loved to organize banquets to impress special guests with original and innovative food and they are credited with having created the first Zuccotto within this context.

According to the Gelatieri Artigiani Fiorentini (an association for the promotion of artisan gelato) the original formula contained ricotta cheese, cocoa grains, citrus peel and Alchermes liquor. The recipe we’re sharing on Visit Tuscany was published in Italian by Francesca Fantoni on The Black Fig. As Francesca says, this recipe comes from a very famous pastry chef but contains an additional (special) ingredient: San Gimignano saffron, a famous DOP Tuscan product.


Sponge cake

  • 7 small eggs
  • 250 g sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 50 g melted butter

Liquor syrup

  • 250 ml water
  • 320 g sugar
  • 40 ml of liquor such as Brandy or Rum

Zuccotto filling

  • 90 g dark chocolate
  • 400 ml whipping cream
  • 1 sachet of San Gimignano saffron /  0.1 g pistils
  • 60 g sugar


Follow the following steps:

Making the sponge cake

In a saucepan over medium heat, beat the eggs and sugar for a few minutes until the mixture reaches a temperature of 50 ° C. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and whip it for 15-20 minutes.

Add the flour, stirring with a spatula. Add 1 tablespoon of the mixture to the melted butter and mix. Add the melted butter to the dough and stir gently until blended.

In a greased and floured baking pan, pour the mixture and bake at 190 degrees celcius for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool, remove the cake from the pan and slice into strips. Cover the inside of a bowl with the strips.

Preparing a liquor syrup

In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve sugar in water. Remove from heat and, when cool, add the liqueur syrup and mix. Brush the sponge cake with this liquor syrup. 

Zuccotto filling

Dissolve 40 g of chocolate in a double bowl and cover the sponge cake. Put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Chop the remaining chocolate (50 g)

In a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of whipping cream, add the saffron, and let it rest for an hour, stirring occasionally. Put the saffron cream in the fridge and let it cool for at least half an hour.

Whip the rest of the cream with the sugar, then add the cream with saffron and assemble everything with a mixer until you obtain a well whipped cream. Add the chocolate chips and gently stir the mixture

Assembling the Zuccotto

Fill the bowl lined with cake strips with the saffron cream, leaving 1cm to the border. Finish by covering with the last strip of sponge cake and brush them with some liquor syrup.

Freeze the Zuccotto, and remove from freezer to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.