Zuppa Inglese (TRIFLE) and Alchermes

Zuppa Inglese (TRIFLE) and Alchermes

For the month of July we are going to tell you how to make the hot summer days more pleasant with a sweet recipe that includes our Savoiardi biscuits as a basic ingredient: the ZUPPA INGLESE!

Zuppa Inglese is a classic dessert made by Italian pastry-makers; the name translates literally as “English Soup” which confuses ideas a little, but its origin seems to be Emilian and it is certain that in the 1800s it was widespread throughout central Italy, (the recipe for Zuppa inglese was in the first edition of Artusi's book: science in the kitchen).

Below is everything you need for the preparation:
- 200g Savoiardi (100g bags are available at Biscottificio Mattei)
- Alkermes
- Custard (half yellow and half with cocoa)
For the custard:
- 6 egg yolks
- 6 heaped tablespoons sugar
- 1 liter milk
- 6 level spoons flour
- Peel of half a lemon
For the cocoa cream:
- 4 level spoons of cocoa and 4 of sugar

Zuppa Inglese con Savoiardi Antonio Mattei
Zuppa Inglese con Savoiardi Antonio Mattei

Boil the milk in a saucepan over low heat. Meanwhile, in a low non-stick pan, mix well the egg yolks, sugar and then the flour, then add the lemon peel and put the mixture over low heat and stir adding the hot milk a little at a time and continue stirring until the cream begins to boil, at that point remove the lemon peel and let the cream cool. Then divide it into two parts, leave one half yellow and add the cocoa (previously mixed with sugar) to the other and mix until the mixture is homogeneous in both color and consistency.
Syrup for soaking the Savoiardi:
water, sugar, Alkermes in equal measures. Heat water in a saucepan to melt the sugar and then add Alkermes once cooled.
The Trifle: take a low baking dish or serving tureen, quickly dip the Savoiardi in the Alkermes syrup and make a layer of Savoiardi all over the bottom of the dish. Then pour the custard on top making sure all the biscuits are covered, lay another new layer of soaked Savoiardi in the dish and cover the biscuits again but this time with a layer of the cocoa custard, alternate in this way until you finish. You can decorate the top with crumbled dry Savoiardi or with fresh cut fruit. Place in the fridge and let it cool for a few hours. It is best served in small bowls or cups and should be eaten with a spoon.

Family anectode: when we (Pandolfini siblings) were little, our mother sometimes prepared this dessert for Sunday lunches, (our table on Sunday was set for a minimum of 10 people) she made two versions, one for adults with Alkermes and one for us with the Savoiardi soaked in milk... but that shocking pink made us so thirsty that hush, hush, once we finished our portion, we went to steal a piece of the "forbidden" one!

Curiosity about Alkermes: what characterizes Alchermes the most is its intense red color, due to the dried cochineal (the natural dye used); it is a syrupy liqueur, very sweet, with a pleasant smell.
The alcohol content of Alchermes is between 21-32%.

Alkermes made by Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella di Firenze
Alkermes made by Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella di Firenze

In Florence, Alkermes was already well known and widespread at the time of the Medici, prepared since then in the friars’ workshop of Santa Maria Novella, that’s how it arrived in France, brought there by Catherine de 'Medici (wife of the King of France Henry II d'Orleans). In the historic workshop of Officina di Santa Maria Novella, founded in 1221, Alkermes is still bottled by hand, in bottles that have kept the same shape since 1870. Since 2003 it has been recognized as a "traditional agri-food product" and is included on the regional list of Tuscany as a protected product.

In Prato this tradition has been revived by a small artisan company Nunquam.
Alkermes, in fact, is regaining in popularity; this liqueur is very important in the gastronomic culture of Prato because it is not only used to flavor traditional sweets such as Pesche di Prato and Zuccotto, but above all it is officially part of the ingredients with which the Mortadella di Prato PGI is produced.
All these delights are of our territory that we obviously invite you to taste together with the products of the Antonio Mattei Biscuit Factory!