The origin of this luscious dessert, which resembles an English trifle (the name translates as "English soup"), is most likely with the homesick Victorians who fled the cold English climate for the warmth of Italy. In this signature Neapolitan version, the sponge cake is soaked with rum and layered with chocolate-cinnamon and vanilla-orange custards.
If you can't find sponge cake, two pound cakes can be used. For a decorative touch, pipe a whipped cream border around the edge of the dessert before serving.
4 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
10 large egg yolks
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum
For Pastry Creams:
Bring milk and 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar to boil in heavy large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Whisk yolks with remaining 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar in large bowl to blend. Sift flour into yolk mixture and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and whisk over medium heat until custard boils and thickens, about 2 minutes. Divide custard between 2 medium bowls. Add chocolate and cinnamon to custard in 1 bowl and stir until chocolate melts. Add vanilla and orange peel to custard in second bowl and stir to blend. Press plastic wrap onto surface of each custard and chill until cold, at least 4 hours.
Stir 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cool. Mix in rum.
Cut sponge cake vertically into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange enough cake slices on bottom of 16-cup glass bowl to cover in single layer. Brush 6 tablespoons syrup over. Spread half of orange cream over cake. Top with another layer of cake slices. Brush with 7 tablespoons syrup. Spread remaining chocolate cream over. Top with another layer of cake slices. Brush with 7 tablespoons syrup. Spread remaining orange cream over. Top with enough remaining cake slices. Brush with 7 tablespoons syrup. Spread remaining chocolate cream over. Top with enough remaining cake slices to cover. Brush 7 tablespoons syrup over. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Whip 2 cups chilled cream in medium bowl to soft peaks. Spread cream over cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings and candied fruit, if desired.
From: Artur Bychowski <firstname.lastname@example.org>