Zuppa Inglese (English soup)


In the early 1500s an Italian diplomat returned to Ferrara after visiting the British court and asked the cooks to recreate a dessert he loved when he was abroad. We now know that he was referring to the English trifle, but the chef though so poor of the description he was given that he decided to make something much better than that. This is how the zuppa inglese (literally: ‘English soup’) came to be – and we cannot but agree that it is much more delicious than any British dessert. This is not the original recipe, but a Nineteenth-century variation using modern ingredients.




- 250 ml fresh cream

- 375 g white sugar

- 20 g flour

- 750 ml milk

- 5 vanilla pod

- 100 g dark chocolate

- 9 egg yolks

- 60 g corn starch

- 200 ml water

- 100 ml Alchermes liqueur

- 40 savoiardi biscuits




Start by preparing some custard. Prepare the chocolate by finely grating it. Mix the milk and cream in a pot, extract the vanilla seeds from the pods, add them to the pot, then bring it all to a light boil on a gentle flame. Mix the beaten egg yolks with 275 g of sugar in another bowl. Using a sieve, add the flour and the corn starch to the bowl while you keep stirring. Pour the boiling milk and cream into your mix, quickly mix the two together, then transfer it back to the warm pot and keep stirring. You want it to boil. As soon as it boils, pour half of it in a steel pan and half of it into another. Stir the chocolate into one of them only until you have two custards. Immediately cover the pans with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the custards to prevent air to seep in forming a crust. Put the pans in your fridge for one hour. While the custards cool, take eight dessert cups and cut the biscuits in a size fit for the cups. Warm the water in a pot and dissolve the sugar into it, then add the liqueur and stir until it is a uniform syrup. Let it cool down a bit, then dunk the biscuits into the syrup and place them in a layer on the bottom of the cups. Now add a chocolate custard layer, another syrupy biscuits layer, and a regular custard layer. Continue like this until you finish the ingredients. Keep the cups in the fridge until ready to serve.