Italian Ice Cream Zuccotto Recipe

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Ice Cream Zuccotto is a Classic Italian dessert from Florence, made with a Sponge Cake and two or three of your favourite ice cream flavours. Adding a chocolate drizzle brings it to the next level! The perfect special occasion or just because dessert recipe.

Zuccotto with a slice cut on a white plate.

I have always been intrigued by this Italian Dessert, and since I just made an Italian Sponge Cake for my last blog post I decided it was time to make a Zuccotto. I usually make my Tiramisu Layer Cake but we were (or should I say I was) ready for a change!

We love anything and everything ice cream in our family. And I have to say living in Italy is the perfect place to get my fill of Gelato! Making it is easy especially if you use a No-Churn recipe or even an Ice Cream maker gelato.

There are many ways to make this dessert but since you can’t get much better than Ice Cream in the summer and considering my love for chocolate. I decided to use two different flavours of ice cream, dark chocolate and chocolate chip.

Recipe Ingredients for Zuccotto

  • Sponge cake – homemade or store bought cake
  • Liquid – I used chocolate milk but you could use what you prefer
  • Ice cream – your two favorite flavors, I used chocolate chip and chocolate
  • Chocolate – good quality milk or dark chocolate, instead of just melting the chocolate you could also use a simple chocolate glaze.
Ice cream cake on a white plate with two slices cut on white plates.

What is a Zuccotto?

A Zuccotto is an Italian dessert that originated in Florence. It started out as a chilled dessert made with an Italian Sponge Cake,  the Liqueur Alchermes, and a creamy Ricotta filling, although now there are several variations, such as a cream filling and of course an ice cream filling.

How to make an Ice cream Zuccotto:

The first thing to do is prepare and bake your Italian Sponge Cake if you are making it from scratch, let it cool completely, even out the top of the cake, then slice it into two layers.

With one of the cake layers make thin cake slices.

Using your round plastic freezer safe bowl to measure, cut a circle the size you need from the second cake layer, this will cover the top/bottom of the Zuccotto.

Wrap the inside of the bowl with plastic wrap, use two pieces, (make sure they are long enough to cover the top of the cake when completed) one overlapping the other so that every spot is covered.

Cutting the cake slices, placing in the bowl and drizzling with liquid.

Place the slices in the bowl touching but not overlapping, you need to cover the whole bowl.

Soak the layers with your favourite liquid, I used chocolate milk. You want the layers to be nice and moist.

Then choose your favourite ice cream flavours, you will be making three layers, so two different types are a good choice.

Make three layers of ice cream, evening out each layer before adding the next. Leave about 1/4 inch from the top of the cake free.

Adding the ice cream to the bowl.

Place the second cake layer on top and gently push down so that it fits in the bowl (you may need to cut a bit more off).

Then soak this layer with more liquid.

Pull the overlapping plastic wrap over the cake and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight.

The zuccotto before wrapping in plastic.

Remove the Zuccotto from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap from the top of the bowl, invert the cake onto a clean plate, and remove the remaining plastic wrap. Pour the melted chocolate or chocolate glaze over the top, let it sit for about 15 minutes, enough time so that it is easy enough to cut through.

Zuccotto on a plate.

If you prefer you could also spread some whipped cream over the cake or even a good dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder. You could sprinkle some chopped nuts on top of the melted chocolate or even coconut flakes.

What liquids can you use to moisten the cake?

As I mentioned I used chocolate milk, but it also depends on your flavours of ice cream. You could make a Tiramisu and use coffee to moisten the cake, or use fruit ice cream and use juice. Italians also like to use a combination of sugar and water, or your favourite liqueur would be an interesting idea.

If you prefer to make your own Ice Cream / Gelato, that works also. You could use the same instructions that I used to make this Easy Ice Cream Cake.

Ice cream cake on a white plate with two slices cut on white plates.

How to Store An Ice Cream Cake

Store the cake in an airtight freezer safe container. Glass containers are not a good idea because they will cause the dessert to freeze slower, which could cause freezer burn. The cake should be eaten within seven days.

What to make with leftover Spongecake

After you cut the cake to make the slices and the top you may have some leftover cake, you could make cake pops, use it as a crumb topping on a sweet bread or coffee cake, make a trifle or do as the Italian does and dunk it in your morning caffe latte.

If you are looking for more Classic Italian Cakes then I think you would enjoy this Italian Pastry Filled Lemon Cake or an Easy Italian Apple Cake or a couple of our favorites such as this Italian Lemon Plum Cake or this Ciambella Romagnola Italian Cake.

A slice of cake on a white plate with a fork.

So if you are looking for something Traditionally Italian why not give this Zuccotto al Gelato a try, and let me know how you like it. Enjoy!

Ice cream cake on a white plate with two slices cut on white plates.

Italian Ice Cream Zuccotto

Rosemary Molloy

Zuccotto al Gelato is a Classic Italian dessert from Florence, made with an Italian Sponge Cake your favourite ice cream. Adding a chocolate drizzle brings it to the next level!

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Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Chilling Time 5 hours

Total Time 6 hours

Course Dessert

Cuisine Italian

Servings 8 servings

Calories 517 kcal

Ingredients 

 

  • 1 Sponge Cake (either homemade or store bought)
  • ½-1 cup liquid (such as milk, sugar water, watered down liqueur, juice etc)
  • 5 cups any flavour Ice Cream
  • cups any flavour Ice Cream
  • 3½- 5 ounces dark or milk chocolate (melted)

Instructions 

  • Make the Italian Sponge Cake or use store bought.
  • Let the cake cool completely, even out the top of the cake, then slice it into two layers. With one layer make thin slices, about ¼ inch / 1 cm (see video or photos).

  • Using your round plastic freezer safe bowl to measure, cut a circle the size you need from the second cake layer, this will cover the top/bottom of the Zuccotto.

  • Wrap the inside of a plastic freezer safe bowl (I used a 7×4 inch / 18×10 cm size) with plastic wrap, use two pieces, (make sure they are long enough to cover the top of the cake when completed) one overlapping the other so that every spot is covered.

  • Place the slices in the bowl touching but not overlapping, you need to cover the whole bowl. Soak the layers with your favourite liquid, I used chocolate milk. You want the layers to be nice and moist.

  • Then choose your favourite ice cream flavours, you will be making three layers, so two different types are a good choice. Make three layers of ice cream, evening out each layer before adding the next. Leave about ¼ inch from the top of the cake free.

  • Place the round cake layer on top and gently push down so that it fits in the bowl (you may need to cut a bit more off). Then soak this layer with more liquid. Pull the overlapping plastic wrap over the cake, add an additional layer of wrap if needed and place it in the freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight.

  • Melt the chocolate either bain marie or in the microwave, stir until smooth.

  • Remove the Zuccotto from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap from the top of the bowl, invert the cake onto a clean plate and remove the remaining plastic wrap. Pour the melted chocolate or chocolate glaze over the top, let it sit for about 15 minutes, enough time so that it is easy enough to cut through. Enjoy!

Notes

Do not let the melted chocolate cool or it will harden up too quickly on the ice cream and you won’t be able to spread it to get a drip effect.
If you find the chocolate isn’t hardening fast enough then refreeze the cake for 45-60 minutes.
If you prefer you could also spread some whipped cream over the cake or even a good dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder. You could sprinkle some chopped nuts on top of the melted chocolate or even coconut flakes.
Store the cake in an airtight freezer safe container. Glass containers are not a good idea because they will cause the dessert to freeze slower, which could cause freezer burn. The cake should be eaten within seven days.

Nutrition

Calories: 517kcalCarbohydrates: 70gProtein: 8gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 305mgPotassium: 371mgFiber: 3gSugar: 56gVitamin A: 580IUVitamin C: 0.7mgCalcium: 192mgIron: 2mg

Keyword ice cream cake, ice cream zuccotto, Italian cake, Italian zuccotto recipe, zuccotto

Updated from June 8, 2019.

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