marisa mariella

easy mouthwatering recipes that unite your family and friends

Pandoro Zuccoto

Marisa Mariella
Pandoro is a traditional Italian vanilla-scented sweet bread served at Christmas and New Year. Dusted with icing sugar, the eight-pointed star shape dessert which originates from Verona is meant to resemble the snowy peaks of the Italian Alps. For this recipe, the Pandoro replaces the spongecake that is traditional for zuccoto, a Tuscan dome-shaped dessert (actually, it’s supposed to be more like pumpkin-shaped). My filling consists of lightly sweetened creamy ricotta which is studded with bittersweet chocolate and perfumed with fresh orange zest. A shiny chocolate ganache, scented with orange liqueur, envelopes the entire concoction, making it look ever so professional. This showstopper no-bake dessert takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and serves a crowd of 12 to 24, depending on how thick you cut the slices. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
cooling time 15 hours
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert, treat
Cuisine Italian
Servings 18 servings


  • 6-7 slices Pandoro
  • ½ cup orange-flavour liqueur

For the filling:

  • 2 lb ricotta cheese
  • ½ oz whipping cream or 18% cream (can replace a portion of the cream with milk)
  • 2 - 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • cup granulated sugar (optional)
  • cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • The zest of 1 orange

For the ganache:

  • 1 cup Bittersweet chocolate, chopped 140g
  • 1 cup Heavy cream 140g
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar to taste - for dusting


Prepare the Pandoro

  • Use a dome-shaped bowl that is about 9" diameter at its widest. Line the inside with plastic wrap, enough to overhang from the edges. Set aside.
  • Lay the Pandoro on its side. Remove a thin piece from the most narrow end. (Save as a treat for yourself.)
  • Cut 5 slices, about 2 - 3 cm wide.
  • Set aside the widest piece and smallest piece.
  • Cut the rest of the slices in half.
  • Place the smallest slice on the bottom of the bowl. Then add the remaining halves, trying to interlock the slices. Fill in any gaps with pieces of the remaining slice.
  • Drizzle the inside of the zuccoto with orange liqueur. (optional)

Prepare the Filling

  • Discard any extra whey that is floating on top of the ricotta. Add the ricotta to a large bowl.
  • Add the powdered sugar and granulated sugar along with the orange zest. Beat for a minute until the ricotta is creamy.
  • Add the whipping cream and continue beating for a minute.
  • Coarsely chop the chocolate and fold it into the ricotta. Set aside.
  • Pour the ricotta cream inside the cavity, scraping off the sides of the bowl.
  • Place the largest slice of the Pandoro on top.
  • Cut a few small pieces from the remaining slice to fill in any gaps left from the top slice. Gently press down to compact the mixture.
  • Cover with the overhanging wrap. Place a plate on top to offer a little weight. Let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

Prepare the Ganache

  • Pour the whipping cream in a small sauce pot and place over medium heat.
  • Remove from heat as soon as it comes to a light simmer. Finely chop the chocolate and add it to the whipping cream. Swirl the pot so the cream covers the chocolate. Set aside.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, then stir with a whisk. Add the corn syrup, butter, and liqueur and stir until everything is melted.
  • Place on an ice bath to cool and thicken, stir occasionally. Remove from ice bath once it is thick but still pourable.

Assemble the Zuccoto

  • Prepare the serving platter by placing 3 strips of parchment around the edges.
  • Remove the zuccoto from the fridge and unwrap the top. Carefully turn it upside down on the platter, centering it on the strips of parchment.
  • Pour the ganache over the zuccoto, letting it drip down the sides. Use a spatula to spread evenly.
  • Carefully remove the slips of parchment paper. Wipe the platter clean.
  • Decorate with raspberries and mint leaves. Dust the raspberries with icing sugar. Refrigerate for an hour and then serve. Store lightly covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Do not freeze.



Consider changing the flavourings from orange to lemon. Use lemon zest in the ricotta. Drizzle lemon liqueur on the Pandoro. Decorate with thin slices of lemon. 
Keyword authentic italian food, Christmas, dessert, Italian food, orange, orange liqueur, ricotta, zuccoto