Italian Trifle Cooking Recipe – Zuppa Inglese Recipe

Italian Trifle Cooking Recipe | Zuppa Inglese Recipe

This is a rich layered dessert whose Italian name translates as “English soup.”

Serves 6

Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Cooling time: 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 7 oz. (200 g) ladyfingers or other soft cookie
  • Some candied fruit to decorate

Pastry cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (4 Vz oz./130 g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (2 oz./60 g) flour
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • A little butter

Chantilly cream

  • 1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Syrup for dipping

  • Scant 1 cup (200 ml) water
  • 1 cup (3 ⅓ oz./100 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) rosolio (rose liqueur)
  • 1 ⅔ cups (400 ml) alkermes (very sweet liqueur of medieval origin made from spices)

1 deep cake mold

Italian Trifle Cooking Recipe - Zuppa Inglese Recipe 1

Cooking Method

  • Make the pastry cream.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale; add the flour.
  • Stir in the milk little by little and place over low heat, stirring continuously.
  • Do not allow the cream to come to a boil-it can separate.
  • As soon as it begins to simmer, remove from the heat and pour it onto a baking sheet or into a bowl.
  • Melt a little butter and spread it over the surface of the cream to prevent it forming a skin.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and leave to chill in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour.

Prepare the Chantilly cream.

  • Whip the cream (straight from the refrigerator so that it is really cold) with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and put back in the refrigerator.

Prepare the syrup.

  • Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat.
  • When it is completely melted, divide the syrup between two small bowls.
  • Add the rose liqueur to one and the alkermes to the other.

Brush a mold with a little of pastry cream.

  • Dip the ladyfingers alternately in the two syrups and line the bottom of the mold.
  • Cover them with a layer of pastry cream and continue to alternate the dipped ladyfingers and pastry cream.
  • Finish with a layer of ladyfingers.
  • To finish, cover with the Chantilly cream.
  • Decorate with slices of candied fruit.
  • Keep cool and serve at room temperature.

Suggested food/wine match

  • La Stoppa, Vigna del Volta—Emilia malvasla passito IGT

Chef’s notes

You can replace the ladyfingers with different soft cookies.
For a two-color Italian trifle, flavor half of the pastry cream with grated dark chocolate or cocoa powder.
If you do not have rose liqueur or alkermes, replace them with rum, kirsch, or a liqueur made from fruit ora different flower.

Did you know?

This dessert would have been prepared for the first time by cooks at the court of the d’Estes—the dukes of Ferrara—in the sixteenth century. It was probably adapted from a recipe for English trifle that reached them via commercial exchanges with England.

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