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Sponge Cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted but cooled
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino liqueur or Kirsch
  • 2 tablespoons brandy


  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1-quart dish with plastic wrap. Grease a 10-inch square and a 6-inch square cake pan and line both with waxed paper.
  2. Sponge Cake: Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl over a pan of steaming water until the mixture is light and frothy and leaves a trail. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat until the mixture is cold. Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the mixture with a large metal spoon, being careful not to over fold and lose volume. Pour the cooled, melted butter down the side of the bowl and gently fold in. Pour the mixture into the 2 cake pans and bake for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack and peel off the waxed paper.
  3. Using a cake pan or plate as a guide, cut a 10-inch circle from the larger cake. Cut out a small wedge to make it more pliable and easier to fit in the round bowl. Push the cake gently into the bowl to line it, cutting off any that overlaps. From the second cake, cut a circle the same size as the bowl top. Brush all the cake with the combined brandy and liquor.
  4. Filling: Beat the cream and confectioners' sugar to soft peaks and divide between 2 bowls. To the first bowl, add the nuts, chopped chocolate and cherries. Spoon into the cake lined bowl and hollow out the center with the back of a spoon, making sure the layer of cream cheese is even. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.
  5. Mix a third of the melted chocolate into the second bowl of whipped cream-mixing with a little of the cream first, before adding to the rest. Spoon into the hollowed center of the chilled Zuccotto, level using a metal spatula and press the circle of cake on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Invert the bowl onto a wire rack and turn out the Zuccotto.
  7. Take the remaining melted chocolate and stir to cool slightly. Pour over the Zuccotto and tap the rack to make sure the chocolate covers the whole of the cake.
  8. Refrigerate until set.
  9. Melt the white chocolate and flick it over the Zuccotto with a fork.
  10. Chill to set.