Is zuppa inglese from England? One of the possible legends suggests that zuppa inglese was created in the mid-19th century in the hills of Fiesole over Florence, where the Tuscan maid of a wealthy English family put together a hearty dessert using biscuits, chocolate pudding, and custard leftover from their afternoon tea. It reveals a lot about the ability of Tuscan people to use leftovers creatively, turning them into another delicious treat.
The key ingredient of a traditional zuppa inglese is alchermes: a Renaissance spirit that was a favorite liqueur of the Medici family, the Tuscan elixir for long life and known as a pick-me-up for delicate women. The bright crimson liqueur is still made today by the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy in Florence using the same recipe that was created in 1743, along with many other artisanal and refined liqueurs.