Could there ever be a more tantalizing recipe name than Triumph of Gluttony cake? I think not.
Director Luchino Visconti’s 1963 classic The Leopard stars Bert Lancaster as Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina; Claudia Cardinale plays Anglica, a maiden so ripe she practically exudes sweet juices from her heaving bosom, and studly bad boy aristocrat Tancredi is brought to life by Alan Delon.
Based on Il Gattopardo by Giuseppe Tomais di Lampedusa, the novel and the film chronicle the decline of Sicilian aristocracy in the late nineteenth century. Within dusty castles dotting the sweeping, sun drenched countryside tightly knit upper class families try in vain to preserve the protocols of the Kings of Savoy as the increasingly prosperous middle classes clamour for a seat at the table.
“…glittering with crystal and silver on the right, he moved left toward that of the sweetmeats. Huge blond babas, Mont Blancs snowy with whipped cream, cakes speckled with white almonds and green pistachio nuts, hillocks of chocolate-covered pastry, brown and rich as the topsoil of the Catanian plain from which, in fact, through many a twist and turn they had come, pink ices, champagne ices, coffee ices, all parfaits, which fell apart with a squelch as the knife cleft them, melody in major of crystallized cherries, acid notes of yellow pineapple, and those cakes called triumphs of gluttony filled with green pistachio paste, and shameless virgins’ cakes shaped like breasts.”
A glittering gathering on New Year’s Eve at our friends’ palatial Soho loft featured piastra-sized blini topped with tumbles of tobiko caviar, sumptuous salads dressed with fragrant olive oil fresh from the groves of one guest’s Greek estate and mounded platters of cracked lobster tangled in haystacks of celeriac and patate di bambino.
This Triumph of Gluttony cake lived up to expectations, with Amaretto-soaked sponge cake layered with blood-orange marmalade and chocolate ganache studded with maraschino cherries, enrobed in perfumed fondant and spilling forth a rockslide of candied pistachios. Sparkly silver dragées and luminescent pearls captured the flicker of elegant tapers dancing off heirloom crystal and fine bone china.
Click here for the recipe for The Triumph of Gluttony Cake.