Zuppa Inglese

Serves 8

Chocolate desserts should be rich, but not too sweet – here there is just enough lemon zest and orange syrup to keep it light.

600ml/1 pint whole milk
The grated zest of 2 oranges
The grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
8 organic free-range eggs
125g/4oz caster sugar
120g/4oz plain flour
5tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
80g/3oz good dark chocolate, chopped
80ml/3fl oz limoncello
20 savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)

For the candied oranges

2 oranges
250g/8oz caster sugar
250ml/8fl oz water

First prepare the candied oranges. Slice into fine rounds and blanch in a pan of boiling water for a minute or so. Drain and refresh in cold water. Repeat this process twice. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small heavy-based pan over a medium heat, then bring to the boil. Add the oranges, turn down the heat slightly and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the syrup is viscous. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Now pour the milk into a heavy-based pan and add the orange and lemon zest. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the pan, with the empty pod. Heat to a simmer, then immediately remove and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and flour in a large bowl until the mixture is pale and thick. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you do so. Pour back into the pan and whisk over a low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and no longer tastes floury. Immediately pour into two bowls, dividing equally, and discarding the vanilla pod. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate to one bowl and stir until the powder is evenly distributed and the chocolate has melted. Set the bowls of vanilla and chocolate custards aside to cool.

Drain the oranges, reserving the syrup, and chop into small pieces, then stir the limoncello into the syrup. Take a tablespoon of the syrup and stir it into the vanilla custard. Split the savoiardi in half lengthways and sprinkle with the remaining orange syrup. Arrange a layer of the soaked savoiardi over the bottom of a pretty serving bowl. Top with a layer of vanilla custard, then a scattering of chopped orange. Add another layer of savoiardi, followed by chocolate custard, then orange. Continue in this way until you've used all the ingredients, finishing with a few spoonfuls each of the vanilla and chocolate custards. Swirl together to create a marbled effect, then refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

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