Lemon delights



The unmistakable fragrance of Amalfi lemons and the delicate flavor of limoncello cream are the real stars of the show in this recipe for lemon delights – a real treat for the taste buds! Master pastry chef Sal De Riso takes us on a journey to discover his home turf, so rich in colors and exciting flavors. These delicious lemon pastries, originating from Campania, were first created in 1978 by Carmine Marzuillo, a pastry chef from the Amalfi Coast, and have since become one of the most popular and well-known desserts in Italian culinary tradition. Soft sponge cake, a strong, zesty filling, and little dollops of cream for a real lemony treat – what’s not to love!


Ingredients for 5 sponge cake domes
Eggs 3.5 oz (100 g) - (at room temperature)
Egg yolks 2 tsp (10 g) - (at room temperature)
Sugar ⅓ cup (60 g)
Type 00 flour ¼ cup (30 g)
Potato starch 3 tbsp (30 g)
Vanilla bean
Lemon peel 1
For the lemon-infused cream
Heavy cream 3 cups (700 g)
Sugar ⅓ cup (70 g)
Lemon peel 2
For the sauce
Water 2 ½ tbsp (35 g)
Sugar 2 ½ tbsp (35 g)
Limoncello ⅓ cup (70 g)
Lemon peel 1
For the lemon cream
Egg yolks ¼ cup (70 g)
Sugar ⅓ cup (70 g)
Lemon juice ⅓ cup (70 g)
Butter ⅓ cup (70 g)
Vanilla bean 1
Lemon peel 1
For the pastry cream
Whole milk ¾ cup (175 g)
Heavy cream ⅓ cup (75 g)
Egg yolks ⅓ cup (90 g)
Sugar ⅓ cup (75 g)
Cornstarch 2 tbsp (18 g)
Vanilla bean 1
Fine salt to taste
Lemon peel 3
To flavor the filling
Limoncello ¼ cup (50 g)
For the glaze
Whole milk to taste

To infuse the cream

To prepare the lemon delights you will first need to infuse the heavy cream with lemon to flavor it. To do this, first pour the cream into a bowl or pitcher, then add the sugar 1. Remove the peel from the lemons using a vegetable peeler, taking care not to remove the bitter white part; then add them to the cream 2, mix with a whisk, and cover with plastic wrap 3. Place in the refrigerator, at a temperature of around 39°F (4°C), for at least 12 hours.

To prepare the sponge cake domes

To prepare the domes, first make a sponge cake-type dough. Pour the eggs and egg yolks into the bowl of a planetary mixer 1; both must be at room temperature (at least 64-68°F (18-20°C)) or else they will not whip. Add the sugar 2 and start beating at a moderate speed using the whisk. In the meantime, grate the lemon zest and add it to the whipped cream 3,

along with the seeds from the vanilla bean 4. Beat the mixture for a total of 10-11 minutes, taking care not to overdo it, or else you will get porous domes rather than smooth ones. Meanwhile, sift both the starch and the flour onto a sheet of parchment paper 5, then move the sheet around to mix the powders together 6.

Once the eggs are whipped to the right consistency 7, add the sifted powders, mixing from the bottom up using a spatula 8 until they are completely incorporated 9.

Using a strainer, transfer the mixture into a lightly greased Formaflex mold (10-11) (each ball will be 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter) and bake in a conventional oven at 340°F (170°C) for 28 minutes. As soon as they are cooked and golden brown, remove from the oven 12 and leave to cool.

To prepare the sauce

In the meantime, prepare the limoncello sauce. First, like before, remove the peel from the lemon 1 using a peeler. Next, pour the water and sugar 2 into a small saucepan and add the lemon zest 3.

Heat slightly, without letting it boil, until the sugar 4 is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the limoncello 5, and leave to steep for at least 1 hour. Then remove the lemon zest 6 and leave to cool completely.

To prepare the lemon cream

To prepare the lemon cream, which will be one of the components of the filling for the domes, first zest half a lemon. Then cut the lemons in half and squeeze them 1 so you get the juice out as well. Next, transfer both the juice and the zest to a small saucepan and bring to a boil 2. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a bowl along with the sugar and vanilla bean 3.

Stir quickly with a whisk 4, and as soon as the lemon juice begins to boil, pour it into the yolk mixture 5, stir and transfer back to the saucepan 6.

Cook until it reaches a temperature of 175°F (80°C) (use a kitchen thermometer to measure the exact temperature), while continuing to stir slowly with a spatula 7. At this point, transfer this lemon cream to a bowl to prevent it from overcooking, and remove the lemon peel 8. Once it reaches a temperature of 105°F (40°C), add in the creamy butter 9

and blend using an immersion blender 10 to obtain a smooth consistency 11. Then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator 12.

To prepare the pastry cream

To prepare the pastry cream, first pour the milk and heavy cream into a small saucepan. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean, the pod, and the lemon zest 1, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pour the cornstarch, sugar, and salt 2 into a bowl. Mix well using a spoon and add the yolk of the egg 3.

Mix quickly with a whisk until the mixture is smooth 4. This is the only way to make sure your cream won’t have lumps in it. As soon as the milk and cream come to a boil, transfer them to the yolk mixture, mix 5, and return everything to the saucepan before placing it back on the heat 6.

Cook, continuing to stir with a spatula 7 until the temperature reaches 185°F (85°C); use a thermometer to measure the exact temperature. Then transfer the mixture to a large, shallow casserole dish, remove both the lemon peel and the vanilla bean 8, cover with clear plastic wrap 9, and leave to cool in the freezer.

To prepare the cream filling

At this point, take the liquid cream that you left in the refrigerator to steep, remove the lemon zest 1, and whip all of this lemon-infused liquid cream using a hand mixer 2. Then transfer 15 oz (430 g) of pastry cream to a bowl and add the limoncello 3.

Whisk the pastry cream and limoncello together before adding 10 oz (280 g) of lemon cream 4 you made in the earlier step. Whisk this together as well, and only at the end add in 10.5 oz (300 g) of the lemon-infused whipped cream 5. Whisk again to blend everything into a smooth, consistent cream 6, then transfer to a pastry bag with a smooth nozzle.

To assemble and glaze

At this point, you have the various components ready to go; all that remains is to assemble your dessert. Gently remove the small domes from the mold 1, before returning them to the mold and using the pastry bag to pierce the base and fill the small domes with plenty of cream 2. The leftover cream will be used to make the glaze. Turn them out again 3

and transfer them to a tray. Soak them with the limoncello sauce 4; it may be easier to transfer this to a sauce bottle beforehand. Next, place the domes in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Now you need to make the glaze. Take the leftover filling, add in 10.5 oz (300 g) of whipped cream 5, and mix it all together. Then, add the cold milk a little at a time 6,

and mix to achieve a smooth, fluid consistency 7; adjust the amount of milk you need to add, depending on the consistency of the cream. At this point, dip each dome into the cream 8 before removing any excess 9

and transferring them to a plate 10 as you go. Decorate your lemon delights with the remaining cream 11 and lemon zest 12. Return to the refrigerator and leave to rest for at least 6 hours before serving.


You can store your lemon delights for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, or up to a month in the freezer, in which case you should glaze them immediately before serving.


Your lemon delights need to be completely covered, so don’t be scared by the amount of glaze needed! You can keep any left over in the refrigerator for 1-2 days and serve in a glass as a dessert, together with cat’s tongue cookies, or you might like to make profiteroles and glaze the cream puffs with this fabulous Amalfi lemon glaze!


You wouldn’t normally need to grease a Formaflex mold but if it’s new or particularly clean, we’d recommend that you do so, or else you’ll have trouble turning out the domes. If you prefer to bake the delights in a convection oven, keep the temperature the same and bake for a few minutes less. We’d recommend filling the sponge cake domes and leaving them in the freezer overnight. Then you’ll just need to glaze them and leave them in the refrigerator at 39°F (4°C) for a few hours before serving. If you prefer a more yellow cream, use yellow eggs. 

For the translation of some texts, artificial intelligence tools may have been used.