zuppa inglese di pandoro, con amaretti, crema di mascarpone e ricotta – pandoro trifle with amaretti, mascarpone and ricotta cream

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pandoro trifles I’m surprised myself, to be honest. Two dishes using mascarpone in the space of a month. First pasta, and now this. 2014’s entire mascarpone consumption squeezed into the last couple of weeks of the year. A glance at the main ingredients, not to mention the title (trifle in Italian is zuppa inglese, ‘English soup’, although I have no idea why), will have alerted you to the fact that this is another recipe from outside Sicily, although I did tweak it a bit, by using local sheep’s milk ricotta and Sicilian almonds.

Anyway, as I have mentioned before, the islanders have little in the way of Christmas fare, so this is a time of year I tend to abandon my Sicilian-or-bust approach and cast my gaze a bit farther afield. Well, as far as the nearest supermarket selling mascarpone at any rate.
This, like ice cream (which could in fact replace the ricotta in a summer version, now I come to think of it…) is one of those desserts that everyone seems to love, and it’s also incredibly flexible. Don’t have pandoro? Use panettone. Don’t like amaretto? Use limoncello. Don’t like almonds? Use hazelnuts. Don’t like ricotta and mascarpone? See a psychiatrist.

What’s more, it’s perfect for when you have guests round, because it ticks all the right boxes: quick to prepare; can be done in advance; hard to mess up; looks luxurious and tastes great. I also like the way it’s served in individual glasses. Few things are more inviting than a big bowl of steaming pasta plonked in the middle of the table from which everyone can help themselves, but if you treat trifle in the same way, the end result resembles the pitch after an England-Scotland rugby match – more blood, sweat and mud than sumptuous, creamy elegance. And despite my admittedly eclectic tastes, I’d go for sumptuous, creamy elegance over blood, sweat and mud to round off my dinner any day.

pandoro trifles crema amarettiFor 6:

• 3 slices pandoro, about 1cm thick, cut horizontally from the bottom half of the cake
• 50ml water mixed with 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
• 700g ricotta (preferably from sheep’s milk)
• 300g mascarpone
• 3 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
• 75g caster sugar
• 18 amaretti biscuits, roughly crumbled
• 40g blanched almonds

1. Brush the pandoro slices with the water and amaretto mixture and set aside.
2. Toast your almonds over a low heat in a small pan with one teaspoon of oil, stirring frequently until golden brown. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Once cool, chop roughly.
3. Mix together the ricotta, mascarpone, liqueur and sugar. When smooth, fold in the crumbled amaretti biscuits.
4. In glasses, layer pieces of pandoro (you will need to break up the slices) and ricotta cream, finishing with a layer of cream. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds.

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