From The Vegeterranean: Italian Vegetarian Cooking, Maliu Simões & Alberto Musacchio, Simon & Schuster, 2008.
I remember the first time I tried limoncello. We were in Rome and it was uncomfortably hot. We had just finished eating at a little street restaurant close by our hotel and the waitress appeared at our table with glasses of limoncello for each of us. It was a wonderful surprise, totally unexpected.
Every time I drink limoncello now I always remember that moment. A simple one but memorable.
When I saw these cakes in the book I was leafing through I got a sudden flashback to Rome and decided at that moment that I would make them.
There were several elements in the making. The first was to makes the cakes themselves. They were a very light sponge mixture. Egg yolks were beaten with sugar and vanilla until they became a pale yellow. The egg whites were beaten separately until stiff and then folded into the yolk mixture. Flour and baking powder was then sifted over the mixture and stirred in gently with some lemon zest. This was then placed into ramekin moulds which had been buttered and floured. They were then baked in the oven.
A custard mix was made next. This needed milk warmed with lemon rind and vanilla. Egg yolks and sugar were beaten in a separate pan until pale yellow. A little flour was added and mixed in. When the milk boiled it was poured immediately into the yolk mix while whisking continuously. This was then cooked over a double boiler until it had thickened. It was then cooled and some lemon juice added before it went into the refrigerator.
A sauce was then made. This was simply a sugar and water mix boiled and then cooled. When it had cooled limoncello was added.
The cakes were now able to be put together. The sponges were removed from the ramekins. A small circle was cut into the bottoms of each one. This small lid was set aside and the custard mix was piped into the cakes. The little lids were placed back on. The cakes were placed cut side up and the sauce was carefully poured over them. They were then refrigerated.
There was custard left over. Some cream was beaten with icing sugar until it formed soft peaks. Most of this was folded into the custard and limoncello added and mixed in. The cakes were now place on serving dishes, this time with the cut side down. The cream mix was spooned onto them. It was a consistency that let it run down the cakes and spread a little around the bottom. A dollop of cream was placed on top and some sugared lemon strips.
These were a lot of work but were worth the effort. They were scrumptious. The light-as-air cakes with their custard fillings were sweetly juicy with limoncello sauce and the lemon-flavoured creamy custard icing encasing them.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔