This is a cake designed to appeal to kids, or the kid in us adults. While Christmas cakes are ice-rink smooth perfection, the prinjolata, which starts appearing in cafés and confectioners in late January and therefore well before carnival, is a mound of mess. Splattered with melted chocolate, pine nuts and glacé cherries glowing neon artificial green and red, the prinjolata is like a kids’ art session crossed with a Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake.
Its name comes from prinjol, pine nut, which is similar to the Italian word, pinoli. But pine nuts seem to be just a bit of decoration. The cake itself, which can be a cafe’ counter-top mountain, is made of cream, sponge, citrus peel and biscuits. It has a substantial calorie count with its condensed milk and a bit of a boozy bite to it with its Vermouth content.
My son drools when he sees it. But I tend to say a firm no to a slice, given its almost grotesque carnival appearance. But I do admit that it is the epitomé of pre-Lent excess and puts the Shrove Tuesday pancake in the shade. The prinjolata certainly does use up any fattening ingredients that might be in the store cupboard.
If you feel like giving it a go at home, this seems a good recipe source for it. Decorating it could make for a fun mid-term activity with the kids. If you fancy tasting it, cafés sell it by the slice, and some places have smaller, almost individual-sized plated domes of it for sale. You’ll need a sweet tooth to enjoy it; seeing it is the greater pleasure for some of us, I think.
Photo: The Red Bistro, Liz Ayling.