A zuccotto is the little round cap that cardinals wear, and this dessert gets its name and shape from that cap. Most zuccotti are made with a creamy filling that is put into a bowl lined with pasta genovese (or pound cake); it is covered, chilled well, then inverted out and decorated, usually with confectioners’ sugar. Here, instead, we have a combination of rice and crema pasticcera, or pastry cream, a different and quite delicious filling. The zuccotto recipe is easy, and the results are impressive.
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 2 cups milk
- 14 tablespoons granulated sugar (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- Pinch kosher salt
- 4 ounces diced candied citron
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Zest of 1 lemon, grated
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 small (11½ ounces each) pound cakes, sliced ½ inch thick
- Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)
In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, milk, ¼ cup sugar, and pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook gently until the rice absorbs the milk, about 15 minutes. About halfway through the cooking time, stir in the candied citron. Scrape the rice onto a sheet pan to cool, then chill completely in the refrigerator.
While the rice chills, make the lemon syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and zest with 1 cup of water and ½ cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by about half. Let cool to room temperature.
Whisk the heavy cream to soft peaks, adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar toward the end. Fold the cream gently into the chilled rice.
To assemble: Line a 3-quart bowl with plastic wrap, with a few inches overhanging all around. Line the bowl with slices of pound cake, pressing to adhere, and cutting the slices to make a tight fight as necessary. Brush generously with some of the syrup. Scoop the rice filling into the lined bowl, and spread in an even layer with a spatula. Top with remaining pound-cake slices, covering the filling completely, cutting to fit as necessary. Brush with remaining syrup. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and chill overnight in the refrigerator.
To serve: Uncover and unmold onto a serving plate. Carefully peel off plastic wrap, and dust zuccotto with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into wedges and serve.