Little Italian Cakes Filled with Lemon Pastry Cream {sospiri}
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!
Yield: 16 cakes
For the pastry cream
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • peel of 1 small lemon
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
For the cake
  • 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
For the galze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 3 tbsp hot water
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • rainbow sprinkles, for decoration
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Heat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cake
Recipe by Joanne Eats Well With Others at