12th Day Before Christmas: Try Your Hand at “Zuppa Inglese”

Kick off the season with a little-known recipe that couldn't be made stateside until now.

This article, written by Lisa Futterman, appears on Chicago Tribune.

Make Italian dessert zuppa inglese now that obscure liqueur is here

This sweet story begins in the pastry kitchen of a Philadelphia Italian fine-dining restaurant, where I worked as a pastry chef in the late 1980s. We turned out tray after tray of zuppa inglese, our banquet dessert — layers of rum-soaked sponge cake and cream, the cake dyed pink with grenadine. “Those Italians,” was my thought at the time, “why do they need a pink dessert?”

Fast-forward to a recent trip to the Emilia Romagna — a lingering lunch in a trattoria in the countryside; cured meats, pasta and big spoonfuls of zuppa inglese from a huge bowl on the dessert cart. On return, it was time to re-create that ending and rekindle those memories. My traveling companion insisted we could not make zuppa inglese without alkermes, the traditional Tuscan cherry-red liqueur used as a bagna per dolci (bath for sweets). At the time, alkermes was unavailable in the U.S., so he bravely embarked on making his own, armed with a recipe translated from a book on Italian liqueurs.

The Luxardo version of alkermes recently became available domestically, just in time for baking season. Read more and get the recipe at Chicago Tribune…

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