Being from an Italian family and growing up in Youngstown, Ohio where there was a large Italian population it is inevitable that Spumoni was bound to turn up here sooner or later. As a child I loved spumoni ice cream and it was readily available in Youngstown both in restaurants and in the grocery store. When I moved to California it was almost as if the stuff ceased to exist. For the first 20 years that I lived here I never saw it either in the grocery stores or in Italian restaurants. I understood this in the fancy trendy restaurants but I would have thought it would have been a staple in the mom and pop places that I frequented in my lean military years out here. Nothing.
When I moved to San Diego and got into the foodie scene, most people I talked with had never even heard of it. When we sold our suburban home and moved into town I was floored to discover that the little Italian restaurant just around the corner had spumoni on their menu and it was like childhood all over again. I order it every time we go to that restaurant. In the last year or so I have been surprised to occasionally find it in the grocery store and of course a gallon of it always comes home with me when I find it.
This cake was a delightful surprise to find and I of course had to try it. It really isn’t a cake but two frozen mousses (a cherry and almond layer and a pistachio layer) covered in sweetened whipped cream. It does surprising taste like supmoni ice cream and the only thing I would change is that I would add almonds to the almond layer along with the almond extract. For now I just sprinkle some silvered almonds on each serving.
Spumoni Mousse Cake
1/4 oz. package of powdered gelatin
2 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or half and half
8 oz. high quality white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. almond extract or 1/4 tsp. almond oil
Few drops of pink food coloring
24 maraschino cherries, chopped into “chips”
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp. powdered gelatin
2 tbsp. cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
4 oz. high quality white chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons instant pistachio pudding
Drop of green food coloring (if desired)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
For the cherry layer
Lightly grease the bottom and sides of two 7 or 8-inch spring form pans. Line the bottoms with a parchment paper round. Set aside.
Place the 2 tbsp. cherry juice in a medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand for 1 minute.
Whisk in egg yolks and sugar; mix well. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until thickened considerably 7-10 minutes. When done, it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Stir in chopped white chocolate and blend with a whisk until chocolate has melted and has an even color. Let cool.
When mixture is cooled to just barely warm, whisk in almond extract and pink food coloring. Stir in cherry chips.
Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into the cooled cherry mixture until well blended.
Pour into a prepared spring-form pan and level the top with a rubber spatula. Pick up and drop the pan once or twice to settle any gaps that may have been created when the mixture was poured. Place in freezer and freeze until firm. Wash and dry your saucepan, bowl, spatula, whisk and beaters for the next layer.
For the pistachio layer
Place the 2 tbsp. water in a medium saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand for 1 minute. Whisk in egg yolk and sugar. Stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until thickened considerably 5-7 minutes. When done, it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in chopped white chocolate and blend with a whisk until chocolate has melted and has an even color. Whisk in instant pistachio pudding mix. Let cool.
When mixture is cooled to just barely warm, whisk in a drop of green food coloring to intensify the green color, if desired.
Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into the cooled pistachio mixture until well blended. Pour into the remaining prepared spring-form pan and level the top with a rubber spatula. Pick up and drop the pan once or twice to settle any gaps that may have been created when the mixture was poured. Place in freezer and freeze until firm.
Vanilla whipped cream and assembly
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. clear vanilla extract
Pink food coloring
12 whole maraschino cherries, rinsed and patted dry
Remove pans of mousse from the freezer. Use a dish towel soaked in hot water then wrung dry to warm the outside of the spring-form collars and then gently unlatch and remove the collars. Turn the cherry layer onto a serving platter or cake stand and peel off the parchment round. Stack the pistachio layer on top of the cherry layer and press down until layers are even. If you have gaps between the layers, use an off-set spatula to smooth the two layers together. Peel off parchment circle.
Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form, and then gradually add the sugar. Add in the vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form. Frost the upper half of the mousse cake white whipped cream; avoid frosting the top – we want the pretty green color of the pistachio mousse to show. Tint the remaining whipped cream pink and frost the lower portion with the pink whipped cream. Use one large spatula to smooth the two colors together on the sides of the cake. Transfer remaining pink whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe 12 pink whipped cream florets on the top outer edge of the cake. Place a cherry in the center of each floret. Store cake in the freezer. Slice into pieces while still partially frozen. Serve frozen or let slices come to room temperature.