Tuscany Zuccotto with Gianduia
OR THE SPONGE CAKE:
- Start with the preparation of the sponge cake by dividing the yolks from the whites and put the latter in a large bowl.
- Whisk at medium speed with an electric mixer. When they start to turn white, add 1/3 of the sugar and continue whipping; after 2-3 minutes add another third of sugar and after another 2-3 minutes the last third.
- Still beating, add the egg yolks one at a time and beat again for 5 minutes.
- NB In total, you will have to mix for at least 20 minutes: this time will be used to fill the mixture with air bubbles that will replace the action of the yeast, which is missing in this recipe.
- Add the internal seeds of a vanilla bean and a pinch of salt; finally sift the flour with the starch inside the mixture. Gently mix with a spatula or a wooden spoon: mix from the bottom up, being careful not to dismantle the mixture.
- Grease and flour a 17 cm x 24 cm rectangular pan (or grease and line with parchment paper) and pour the mixture into it.
- Bake the sponge cake in a preheated static oven at 180 ° for about 40 minutes; if using a convection oven, at 160 ° for about 30-35 minutes. The surface must become golden, if it tends to darken, cover the pan with aluminum foil.
- Before removing from the oven, do the toothpick test *; then let it cool down.
- Once cold, remove the sponge cake from the mold and let it cool on a wire rack.
FOR THE RICOTTA CREAM:
- This cream, as simple as it is delicious, will serve as the basis for the various layers of the zuccotto and for the final decoration.
- Put the ricotta in a narrow-mesh strainer placed over a bowl and let it drain and lose the excess whey for at least an hour in the refrigerator. Better, if possible, the evening before use.
- Put the drained ricotta into a cutter (food processor fitted with blades) together with the sugar and vanilla. Blend until a smooth, thick and velvety cream is obtained
FOR THE WHITE RICOTTA CREAM:
- Put 850 g of ricotta cream in a bowl and mix in the gianduia chocolate and candied orange cut into small pieces.
- Mix well and set aside in the refrigerator.
FOR THE GIANDUIA RICOTTA CREAM:
- Heat the cream and pour over the chopped gianduia chocolate; mix to dissolve it completely.
- Let it cool and add it all to 300 g of ricotta cream. Blend with an immersion blender to make the cream homogeneous and set it aside in the refrigerator.
- Take a hemisphere mold or a bowl with a capacity of 2 liters, line it with food film making it protrude by a few cm (the extra cm will be needed to grab the film and then extract the zuccotto from the mold).
- Cut the sponge cake into 2 cm thick slices, carefully remove the dark edges and line the mold with the slices until it is completely covered without leaving holes. With a small knife, even the edges by cutting the sponge cake perpendicularly.
- Pour the Alchermes into a small bowl and with the help of a brush, soak the inside of the sponge cake without letting it penetrate more than half of the sponge cake itself.
- Take the white ricotta cream and cover the sponge cake, leave a basin in the center; to obtain a more precise hemisphere, cover a small bowl with cling film exactly as it was done previously. Gently press on the ricotta cream, remove the bowl and put the zuccotto in the freezer to harden for half an hour.
- After the indicated time, remove the zuccotto and fill the bowl with the gianduia ricotta cream and place the candied cherries here and there in a harmonious way. Brush the remaining strips of sponge cake with Alchermes (on one side only) and then close the zuccotto by placing the strips with the red part inwards.
- Press the sponge cake down very gently to settle all the ingredients and then seal the zuccotto mold with plastic wrap.
- Put the zuccotto in the freezer for 3-4 hours or overnight and then take it out a couple of hours before serving.
- The next day, gently unmold the zuccotto, place on a serving dish, sprinkle with plenty of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder to cover the entire surface.
- Put the remaining ricotta cream in a pastry bag equipped with a star-shaped nozzle and squeeze the tufts on the base of the zuccotto. On the tufts, alternating them, lay a gianduia chocolate lady and a candied cherry.
- Your zuccotto is ready to be tasted in all its goodness!
** Before taking the cake out of the oven, check the cooking with the toothpick test: insert a thin toothpick in the center of the cake in two / three points and if, extracting it, it remains dry, it means that the cake is perfectly cooked. If not, continue cooking for another 5 minutes, then repeat the test.