Sospiri, meaning sighs in Italian, are little sponge cake sandwiches filled with lemon pastry cream and topped with a sweet glaze and sprinkle garnish – absolutely delightful!
I think I’m going to bake my way through the Italian language.
It’s pretty much the best/most efficient/majorly delicious way to learn, don’t you think?
Plus it will teach me the most important phrases. Example – DAMMI IL VINO = GIVE ME THE WINE. That’s going to come in handy some day.
The.boy and I have started planning our honeymoon, which will hopefully involve stops in Rome and Venice before settling into Tuscany for a few days of pure relaxation (i.e. drinking all the wine and eating all the cheese), and in preparation, I have started brushing up on my Italian.
By that I mean, fooling around on the Duolingo app for 15 minutes a day and baking my way through every Italian cookbook I own.
So now I know that “sospiri” literally means little breaths (think suspiration), but really means the cutest little sponge cake sandwiches stuffed with a bright and zesty lemon pastry cream and topped with a sugary sprinkle glaze.
And really really means the noise that you make when you bite into one of these little cakes. It’s instinctual, it’s guttural, it’s a little embarrassing, but it’s totally normal. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. You should, too.
- 1½ cups half and half
- peel of 1 small lemon
- 3 large egg yolks
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar, divided
- finely grated zest from 1 meyer lemon
- pinch of kosher salt
- ⅔ cup cake flour
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- 3 tbsp hot water
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- rainbow sprinkles, for decoration
- First, prepare the pastry cream. Bring the half and half and lemon to a simmer in a small saucepan. Do not let it come to a full boil.
- Meanwhile, in a heatproof, non-reactive bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until they are completely smooth. Whisk in the cornstarch until it is completely incorporated.
- Strain the lemon peel out of the milk mixture. Slowly pour the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly as you do to keep the eggs from cooking. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until teh pastry cream boils. Continue to whisk and let it boil for 30 seconds, or until it forms a very thick cream.
- Transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the cakes. Beat the egg yolks, ¼ cup of the sugar, and the lemon zest at high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment for 5 minutes, or until pale yellow and thick.
- In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites along with a pinch of salt until thick and frothy. Slowly pour in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, then beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.
- Using a large spatula, gently fold the egg yolks until the whites until mostly combined. Sift the cake flour over the batter in 6 additions, gently folding in each, trying not to deflate the batter.
- Heat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Scoop the batter into a piping bat fitted with a ½-inch round tip. Pipe out 2-inch rounds onto the parchment paper, leaving 1 inch around them, to form 16 rounds on each sheet. Bake just until the tops begin to lightly color, about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
- Let cool completely on the baking sheets. When they are cool, slide a small offset spatula under them to release the from the paper. Flip them over and match in similarly sized pairs.
- For the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and vanilla in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the glaze is smooth and warm, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the pan and set aside to cool slightly.
- To fill the cookies, add a heaping tablespoon of pastry cream over half the rounds. Sandwich them together with their matching tops. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the pastry cream around the edges if it has leaked out. Place the filled cakes on a wire rack to catch the glaze.
- Pour the glaze over the little cakes, centering it over the top so that it spreads to cover them and drip down the edges. Decorate by sprinkling with rainbow sprinkles.
- Let the glaze stand until dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Place each cake into a paper cupcake liner and put into an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate for 24-48 hours before serving.
More traditional Italian treats:
Italian Cream Puffs with Custard Filling (St. Joseph’s Day Pastries)
From Around the Web:
Italian Cream Cake from Sweetapolita
Ricotta Cheesecake from Bell’Alimento
Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake from My Name Is Yeh
Italian Lemon Almond Cake from Texanerin
Rustic Italian Sponge Cake with Creamy Cheesecake Filling from Dine and Dish