It took me longer to look for the proper name of this ice cream cake than preparing it. In the town of my husband's relatives in Sicily (not in all parts), they call it il pezzo duro (the hard piece). The first time I heard it, I was very amused. Well, ok. Literally, it IS a hard piece of loaf-shaped ice cream cake. I asked another Sicilian from another province of the island and neither she knew about it.
I thought it was the same as the Florentine zuccotto but they really don't exist in other forms other than half-sphere. The components are the same though. Ice cream, cake & liquor. So I went back to pezzo duro. There has to be another name. My mother-in-law finally contributed to this gap. They also call it cassata gelato. This was derived from the cassata which is made of layers of sponge cake moistened with liqueur or fruit juices, ricotta, candied peel and chocolate or vanilla and covered with marzipan. And that is a better name, isn't it?
This is one of the simplest desserts I have ever prepared that was taught to my by my mother-in-law. My son, who is totally crazy with this ice cream cake begged me to make him one after he just came home from his Nonna's (grandmother) house where he ate one whole cassata gelato and even took home another one. Even if I was taught this recipe years ago, I never made it because it was something that we look forward to in my mother-in-law's house. It's her specialty and it's nice to have it only in her house. It's my son's current food addiction, so for this week, I made cassata gelato number two.
If you have 3 (or even just 2) ice cream flavors, store-bought PLAIN mini sponge cakes and a bottle of liquor or liqueur, then you are one step closer to a wonderful refreshing ice cream dessert. It's so easy to do and you will be rewarded with a beautifully layered dessert. It's good to just keep it in the freezer and take it out when you have guests coming at short notice. That is something that will never happen in this household because I have a little Pac-Man around.
It's Friday. I hope you all have a good weekend!
For one plum cake mold (Serves 6)
- 3 flavors of ice cream of about 400 g. each (I usually use hazelnut, chocolate & pistachios.)
- store bought plain plum cake / sponge cake snacks (I use the ones done with yogurt.)
- 1/2 cup Vermouth (or any other liquor or liqueur you have)
- 1/2 cup water
- candied peel (optional)
- Take out the ice cream 10 - 15 minutes before you start working to soften them a bit.
- Cut a big piece of parchment paper that will serve as the lining of the plum cake mold. It should be long enough for folding on top of the ice cream cake after filling up the mold. Please refer to picture above.
- Crumple parchment paper with your hands, forming it into a ball. Wet it under the faucet and squeeze out excess water. Straighten it out again.
- Line plum cake mold with the parchment paper. If it's too small, use two sheets, overlapping each other.
- Fill up bottom part with one ice cream flavor. Flatten with a spoon or a spatula.
- Mix Vermouth and water in a bowl.
- Wet sponge cakes by brushing the cake with the mixture. Layer sponge cakes on the first layer of ice cream.
- Put the second flavor of ice cream. Flatten.
- Put another layer of sponge cakes brushed with the mixture.
- Put the last flavor of ice cream. Flatten.
- Pull both ends of the parchment paper and cover the top of the ice cream cake. Flatten ice cream cake with both your palms to make it compact inside. The more pressure you put, the more compact it will become.
- Freeze for at least 3 - 5 hours or until the ice cream cake hardens. I leave it overnight.
- To serve, wet the outer part of the mold with warm water. Wait until the parchment paper can slide out easily.
- Invert on a serving plate and peel off parchment paper.