ZUCCOTTO IS A SPECIALITY OF THE CITY OF FLORENCE. IT'S SHAPE PERHAPS INSPIRED BY THE ROUNDED ROOF OF THE LOCAL DUOMO. ZUCCOTTO IS ALSO A VARIANT OF ZUCCHETTO, THE NAME OF THE CARDINALS' SKULL-CAPS.
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- CUT the cake into 1 cm (½ inch) slices and then cut each slice into two triangles. Combine the maraschino and brandy and sprinkle them over the cake.
- LINE a round 1.5 litre (6 cup) bowl with a layer of plastic wrap and then with the cake slices. Arrange the slices with the narrow point of each triangle pointing into the bottom of the bowl to form a star pattern, fitting each piece snugly against the others so you don't have any gaps. Cut smaller triangles to fit the gaps along the top and keep the rest of the cake for the top.
- WHIP the cream until soft peaks form and then whisk in the icing sugar until you have a stiff mixture. Add about a third of the chocolate and the almonds, hazelnuts and candied peel. Mix together thoroughly, then fill the cake-lined bowl with half the mixture, making a hollow in the middle and drawing the mixture up the sides. Leave in the fridge.
- MELT the rest of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, or in a microwave, and fold it into the remaining cream mixture. Spoon this into the bowl and then cover the top with a layer of cake triangles, leaving no gaps. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- TO SERVE, unmould the zuccotto and use a triangular piece of cardboard as a template to dust the top with alternating segments of cocoa and icing sugar.