My name is Emily Sykes and I work in the Pictures and Manuscripts Branch at the National Library of Australia. I enjoy cooking and rarely cook the same dish more than twice – I enjoy being exploratory in the kitchen. This dish was made for and enjoyed by fellow colleagues and friends at the National Library for a self-described ‘Patrick White dinner party’.
Admittedly my knowledge of Patrick White is fairly limited. This is probably due to the fact that, unfortunately, his literature was no longer a part of the school curriculum by the time I entered High School. I was first introduced to Patrick White at the National Library and have gained substantial knowledge of his life and works. Now that I have conquered a recipe my next goal is to read one of his works – I welcome any suggestions as to which is the best one to start with.
I selected this dish because 1. I love desserts and 2. It seemed like the perfect dish to create on a weeknight – little cooking and mostly ‘assembling’. Clearly I underestimated the effort that is required to make Chantilly cream. However, the recipe was fairly easy to follow and I made slight adjustments when necessary.
Sponge cake (or lady fingers)
6 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of sugar
¼ tablespoon of vanilla
1 cup candied fruit
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
½ tablespoon of brandy
¾ cup of mashed strawberries
You can replace maraschinos by Marsala or Amaroso fino.
Pour strawberry syrup on the top of the zuccotto just before serving it
You can replace the cream by an already made Chantilly.
Strawberries can be only cut in two or three instead of being mashed
Line a deep large bowl or mould with strips of sponge cake or lady fingers moistened with maraschino. (I was unable to source maraschino and substituted with Cherry Brandy – not necessarily a cheap alternative but a good drinking companion to the assemblage process.)
Whip two cups of heavy cream. Sweeten with ½ cup sugar and flavour with vanilla. Fold in ½ cup candied fruit. (I took culinary ‘licence’ with the candied fruit and purchased a couple of packets of fruit candy from the health food section at Coles. I figured that they at least contained fruit unlike my other option. I seriously considered folding Starburst into the whipped cream.)
Spoon the mixture into the cake lined mould. This makes the first layer of filling.
Melt 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with ¾ cup of water in a double boiler.Stir in ½ tablespoon of brandy. Cool.
Whip two cups of heavy Cream with ½ cup sugar until stiff. Fold in ¾ cup of mashed strawberries. Spoon over the chocolate filling to make a third layer.
Freeze the dessert until it is firm. To serve, unmould on a chilled platter and cut into wedges.
What’s the verdict:
The most nerve-wracking part of the recipe was turning out the ‘trifle’ from the mould onto a plate. Hearing that ‘plop’ was very satisfactory and the Zucotto was a triumph. I have rated the Zuccotto recipe 4 out of 5 as it ‘has a genius’. It was moderately easy and delicious.