Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Dessert

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula, Chocolate, and Custard

Nicoletta December 7, 2019

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Zuppa Inglese with Amarula Cream Liqueur, Chocolate, and Custard, a traditional Italian dessert made of  Pan di Spagna (sponge cake), soaked in liquor, and layered with custard and chocolate. I made a Zuppa Inglese cake and drenched the sponge with the delectable Amarula Cream Liqueur before adding layers of vanilla custard and cocoa-flavored custard.  A decadent dessert, perfect to entertain your adult guests during the holiday season.

[This post is sponsored by Amarula Cream Liqueur. As always, all opinions are our own.  Many thanks to our followers who support the brands that help fuel the passion that makes Sugarlovespices possible.]

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula liquor, chocolate and custard-feature

I had in my mind the idea of making a Zuppa Inglese cake for quite some time. I wanted to bring back to the spotlight this great Italian classic, an evergreen dessert. 



Amarula Cream Liqueur

When we received two bottles of Amarula Cream Liqueur (with other goodies, like chocolate shot glasses!) just in time for the holidays, I knew that this Zuppa Inglese with Amarula Cream Liqueur, Chocolate, and Custard was meant to be.

Amarula, the original Marula-based alcoholic drink, was first launched as a clear spirit in 1983. In 1989, cream was added to the Marula-based spirit changing it to a cream liqueur. It is distilled and 2 years matured in aged French oak casks. It is available at your local liquor retailer.

Amarula is a gift from the marula tree. It is authentically African: uncultivated, sun-ripened, handpicked organic fruit of the marula tree. The trees bear their fruit just once a year at the end of Africa’s summer; the scent attracts the elephants from the surrounding areas that come to feast on the fruit. That’s why the shape of an African elephant’s tusks are sculpted into the bottle. This is inspired by Africa’s majestic elephants who are known to walk for miles just to taste the ripe Marula fruit. 

  • Amarula Cream Liqueur has a beautiful light caramel color. The taste is rich and velvety smooth, with hints of vanilla and caramel and the exotic, natural Marula fruit (which adds a lingering hint of nuttiness).
  •  Its distinctive, well-rounded taste and creamy texture are extremely versatile. It can be enjoyed neat, with ice, infused in cocktails, or added to hot drinks like coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

We used the Amarula Cream Liqueur to soak our Pan di Spagna, the Italian sponge cake. How delicious that was!

Pan di Spagna (Italian Sponge Cake)

You need 3 simple ingredients -eggs, sugar, and flour- to make Pan di Spagna. However, it is not the easiest cake to make, since there is no leavening agent all is left to the beating of the eggs and sugar and how much air they incorporate.

 There are three types of Pan di Spagna you can make, according to the crumb (sponge) you want to obtain: light, medium, or dense. I chose a medium sponge for this Zuppa Inglese, thinking that the cake would hold its shape better. Nonetheless, all 3 methods are good, you just end up with a different texture.

In the light Pan di Spagna, the sugar and flour are 50% of the weight of the eggs (yes, you need a scale); in the medium sponge the sugar and flour are 75% of the eggs (that’s the one I used); in the dense sponge the sugar and flour are the same weight as the eggs.

Pan di Spagna is perfect for liquor-infused desserts like Zuppa Inglese.

Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese is a classic Italian dessert that alternates layers of liquor-infused sponge cake to layers of custard and chocolate. It can be presented in a glass bowl like a trifle, in individual serving glasses, or in the shape of a Zuppa Inglese cake, as I did.

To make Zuppa Inglese:

  • Prepare the Pan di Spagna (sponge cake) first, possibly the day before, and store it well wrapped in plastic wrap.
  • Afterward, the day of the assembly, make the vanilla custard. To make the chocolate custard, simply sieve unsweetened cocoa into half of the vanilla custard (my mother made it for me many times when I was young!).  
  • Measure 1 cup of Amarula Cream Liqueur, and have a brush ready to soak your sponge.

The Assembly

Loreto and I, we love to work together in the kitchen and share the tasks, especially for the ones that seem more daunting, like the cutting of the cake, and the assembly of a layered cake.

On the first layer, we put the chocolate custard but not before soaking the sponge with the Amarula Cream Liqueur. Actually we poured first some Amarula at the bottom of the serving dish and placed the cake on top to ensure that the bottom layer was nice and moist. On goes the middle layer of the sponge cake, again saturated with the liqueur, followed by a layer of the vanilla custard. To finish it off on goes the top, some more Amarula, and a final layer of vanilla custard and a topping of chocolate shavings.

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula Cream Liqueur, Chocolate, and Custard

It was fun to assemble the Zuppa Inglese,  now we have to wait a few hours before we can taste it. The Amarula Cream Liqueur has to work its magic into the sponge. As a matter of fact, the more the cake sits the more flavorful and moist it becomes. Leave it in the fridge in the glass dome stand and take it out of the fridge about half an hour before serving.

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula liquor, chocolate and custard-cake with slice cut     

The Flavors

This is truly a luxurious dessert, from the sponge cake to the chocolate and vanilla custard, and the incredible fruit-based Amarula that added a richness to the array and not too strong to overpower any of the other components of the cake. As a result, a wonderful festive dessert, for any of your upcoming gatherings.

Let’s share Zuppa Inglese among friends and family

During this holiday season, it is nice to invite family and friends to share great conversations, food, and of course, a wonderful dessert like this Zuppa Inglese. It is heartwarming to see the appreciation on their faces which in return makes us feel like we have given it our all.

We enjoyed it with a nice espresso and a toast utilizing the chocolate shooter cups filled with the Amarula liqueur.

Loreto always wanting to kick things up a few notches, came up with an Amarula butter which amazingly complemented the Zuppa Inglese.

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula liquor, chocolate and custard-people at the table2

Happy Holidays to everyone from us at Sugarlovespices!

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula liquor, chocolate and custard-feature

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula, Chocolate, and Custard

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


Zuppa Inglese with Amarula Cream Liqueur, Chocolate, and Custard, a traditional Italian dessert made of  Pan di Spagna (sponge cake), soaked in liquor, and layered with custard and chocolate. I made a Zuppa Inglese cake and drenched the sponge with the delectable Amarula Cream Liqueur before adding layers of vanilla custard and cocoa-flavored custard.  A decadent dessert, perfect to entertain your adult guests during the holiday season.


Pan di Spagna (Italian Sponge Cake):

  • 6 large eggs (338 g)
  • 250 g sugar (75% of the eggs)
  • 250 g flour 00 or cake flour (75% of the eggs)
  • 1 lemon, the zest


  • 600 ml milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 125 g sugar
  • 45 g cornstarch
  • 20 g cocoa (for the cocoa-flavored custard)


  • 1 cup Amarula Cream Liqueur
  • 1/2 cup chocolate shavings

Amarula Butter:

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 ounces soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Amarula Cream Liqueur
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch of nutmeg and cardamom


Pan di Spagna:

  1. Butter and flour a 24cm springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs with the sugar.
  3. Place the bowl over a double boiler (bain-marie). Whisking constantly, heat the mixture on medium heat and with a thermometer, bring it to a temperature between 45° and 50° C. The heat allows the eggs to absorb more air and the sugar to melt faster.
  4. Once at temperature, move the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk for 20 minutes at a low/medium speed (4 on the KitchenAid). They will triple in volume and be light and fluffy. Just before the end add the lemon zest.
  5. Sift the flour twice and divide it into two parchment papers. With the stand mixer still on low/medium speed, add half of the sifted flour, mix 3 seconds at high speed than lower the speed back to 4. Add the second half of the sifted flour, and repeat (high speed for 3 seconds, then back to low), mixing just until combined. Do not overmix. [If you prefer, you can add the sifted flour to the egg mixture folding gently with a spatula with movements from bottom to top.]
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, leveling the top gently with a spatula.
  7. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 25-30 minutes. or until lightly golden.
  8. Take out of the oven and cool on a rack, then unmold and place it upside down on the rack to cool completely. Wrap it in plastic wrap until ready to use the next day.


  1. In a thick-bottomed saucepan, simmer the milk with a vanilla bean pod for about 5 minutes, then turn off and set aside. Remove the bean pod (let dry, you can use it again).
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl. Add the cornstarch and continue mixing until a smooth.
  3. Now pour the warm milk over the egg mixture slowly while mixing, then pour it back in the saucepan.
  4. Cook the custard on low heat, stirring constantly so as not to create lumps. When the custard begins to thicken, turn off the heat and mix vigorously with a whisk or a wooden spoon.
  5. Pour custard into a sieve and with a spatula push it through. It will get rid of any lumps.
  6. Divide the cream into two bowls, in one sieve the unsweetened cocoa and stir until a smooth chocolate custard is obtained. Let cool.


  1. Take the sponge cake and using a serrated knife divide it into three equal horizontal layers.
  2. Take the first layer of sponge cake and place it on the serving dish where you have poured some Amarula Cream Liqueur. The liqueur will soak the bottom of the sponge making it softer. Then, brush more Amarula Cream Liqueur on top of the first layer.
  3. Distribute evenly the chocolate custard on the first layer.
  4. Place the second layer of sponge cake on top, press a little, and brush generously with Amarula Cream Liqueur.
  5. Spread a layer of custard, setting aside 1/4 of the custard for the top of the cake.
  6. Place the third and last layer of sponge cake on top, press a little, brush with more liquor and spread the custard you have kept aside.
  7. Dust the top with chocolate shavings and set in the fridge to rest for at least 4 hours (the days after the Zuppa Inglese will be even better!)
  8. Serving suggestions: you can add some more chocolate shavings on top before serving. Serve a slice of Zuppa Inglese cake with some Amarula butter on the side.

Amarula butter:

  1. In a medium-size bowl, add the soft butter, then cream it using a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer.
  2. Add the sugar, maple syrup, and rum and beat everything together.
  3. Grate in nutmeg, add the pinch of cardamom, and mix again.
  4. Place in a bowl or a jar, and chill until required.


The cake will keep in the fridge for about 3 days, in a glass dome cake stand.

For the Pan di Spagna: remember, the sugar and flour are always the same weight. If you want a lighter crumb, go 50% of the weight of the eggs. For example, for a 24cm cake like this one: 6 eggs, 150 g sugar, 150 g flour. You can skip the heating of the egg mixture over a bain-marie and beat the eggs and sugar directly in the stand mixer for 20 minutes.

You can arrange the Zuppa Inglese also in a trifle glass bowl, following the same procedure and serve spoonfuls of it.

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What we also love about this product

Amarula and the elephants are intimately connected through our African roots and the Marula fruit. This is why the Amarula Trust was created in 2002 with the aim to safeguard the African elephants. In 2016, the Amarula Trust formed a partnership with the CEO, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, of Wild Life Direct with the shared vision to drive conservation through education. With less than 400,000 elephants left in the world, and their numbers decreasing at an alarming rate, we are going to work together to help protect our elephants and safeguard our heritage – so that in the years to come we can continue meeting them beneath the Marula trees.

Zuppa Inglese with Amarula, Chocolate, and Custard

Drink responsibly!

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  • Avatar
    Reply Chef Dennis December 9, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    I really love Italian desserts. They all really delicious. And your Zuppa Inglese with Amarula Cream Liqueur, Chocolate, and Custard is really tempting to have. I will definitely try making this at home.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:02 am

      This is a classic Italian dessert, so I’m thinking you will love it for sure. Hope you get the chance to make it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kelly Anthony December 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    This Zuppa Inglese looks heavenly. I love custard and cake so this is a perfect balance of the two.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:03 am

      There is vanilla custard and chocolate custard, double the yum! 🙂 Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise December 10, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Your cake looks amazing! I have never heard of Zuppa Inglese, but now I want a slice! Also that Amarula Cream Liqueur, that’s another new item I want to try as well.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:04 am

      Zuppa Inglese is one of the most famous and old Italian dessert. The Amarula cream is such a great liquor, perfect for this dessert.

  • Avatar
    Reply Jacqui Debono December 11, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    This is perfect for entertaining. It’s a family favourite at our house!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:05 am

      It is such a classic and a crowd pleaser! We had it for Christmas Eve, too!

  • Avatar
    Reply Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen December 12, 2019 at 7:31 am

    What a delicious looking cake! So creamy and those flavors sound amazing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:05 am

      So delicious! The flavors together are amazing, thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Patti@PattyCakesPantry December 12, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    The Amarula Liquer sounds amazing. I want to make a pilgrimage to civilization to find some. This cake looks amazing. My grandmother always said that in order to make the Italian Sponge Cake required strong arms. It was only made for very special occasions. Of course, she mixed things by hand. It’s much simpler now that we have electric mixers. She also never used such a delicious sounding cream. (Sorry, Grandma.) I have to try this.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:07 am

      Yes! In the old times, and some places even now, sponge cake is mixed by hand. What a workout! It is delicious, though! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Danielle December 12, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Now this is the recipe to hold on to! I can only imagine how delicious it is if it looks like culinary heaven. And the addition of cream liqueuer is such a great choice! 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:08 am

      Yes, there is no Zuppa Inglese without liquor! The sponge needs to be soaked very well. It is very delicious! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Elaine December 12, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Time to go Italian! I wonder if I could make one of the holidays completely Italian? That would bring a whole lot of new flavors to the table – like this zuppa inglese. Delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:10 am

      That would be lovely! And this Zuppa Inglese would make a statement on the dessert table 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Veronika December 14, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Wow! This cake looks so scrumptious! I want a slice (or three) right now! Definitely saving the recipe to make some time soon)

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:11 am

      Thanks! It is pretty scrumptious, a slice would be enough, I’m afraid 😉 . Hope you try it soon!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jo December 15, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Oh that cake looks sensational. Never heard of zuppa inglese, but going through the recipe it reads and looks simply amazing! Delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta January 5, 2020 at 12:13 am

      Thank you! It is a delicious classic Italian dessert.

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