(= Paola’s “Zuppa Inglese”)
Recommended wine: MostoVino
First of all prepare the sponge cake: beat the egg yolks (setting aside the whites) and sugar with and electric whisk for at least 10-15 minutes, until a light, frothy “cream” forms. Add the sieved flour a little at a time and stir it in carefully. Beat the egg whites in a bowl with a pinch of salt, until they form stiff peaks; when they are firm, combine them with the yolks, folding in delicately with a wooden spoon until you obtain a smooth mixture with an even consistency. Pour the mixture into a 26 cm cake tin, well-greased and dusted with flour, and bake in a preheated oven, at 180 °C, for 40 minutes. When this time is up, do the toothpick test: stick a toothpick into the centre; if it comes out “dry”, the sponge is cooked, if not continue cooking for a few minutes.
When you have taken the sponge out of the oven, you can prepare the pastry cream: boil the milk in a small pan and then let it cool. beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until they are frothy. Add the flour, a little at a time, stirring it in well, then gradually incorporate the cooled milk. Pour this cream into a heavy-bottomed pan and put it on the stove over a low heat; bring it almost to the boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and remove the pan just before it begins to do so. If any lumps should have formed while cooking, whisk the cream until it is smooth and homogenous. Pour half of it (still nice and hot) into a bowl, add the chocolate broken into pieces and stir with a whisk until it has melted completely.
Now you can “build” your Zuppa Inglese: choose the container in which you want to serve the dessert (small bowls or glass jars, a pyrex dish or whatever you prefer), divide the sponge cake widthwise into two halves and then cut them into “slices” the right size for your container. Take a slice and line the bottom with it; dampen with 1 or 2 spoonfuls of liquid (Alchermes or Vin Santo, which you can dilute with water if you prefer, or in the version for children just fruit juice or a syrup) and spread the first layer of pastry cream on top. Add another “slice” of sponge and, after dampening it, cover with the chocolate cream. Continue in this way until you finish all the ingredients. If possible concluding with a layer of pastry cream, so the dessert is more “attractive”. Let your Zuppa Inglese rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours and then, just before serving, sprinkle with icing sugar (or cocoa powder, or both, according to taste).