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Grand Finale Cake a tribute to Zambelli tradition

Thursday, September 06, 2001

To most Pittsburghers, the name Zambelli is synonymous with fireworks. Today, Kitchen Mailbox has a grand finale that's pleasing not only to the eye but to the palate as well.


Zambellistic or Zambelli Grand Finale Cake was not familiar to us, but we had a feeling that the name just might have something to do with Zambelli Fireworks Internationale. According to an old newspaper clipping sent to Kitchen Mailbox (no date), Zambellistic Grand Finale Cake is indeed connected to the Zambelli family.

Zambellistic Grand Finale Cake was created by Connie J. Zambelli (wife of George Zambelli) of New Castle. The cake was included in the cookbook "A Feast of Festivals," by the International Festivals Association.

This rich, scrumptious cake is made with two main ingredients -- a packaged cake mix and ricotta cheese. The cake mix is made according to package directions. The ricotta cheese, along with a few other ingredients, is spread atop the cake batter. The result is a moist cake with a sweet cheese crust. The recipe calls for topping the cake with whipped topping and fresh strawberries. Although you can find strawberries at the grocery store, local strawberries are mostly out of season. So we used local fresh peaches.

If you're interested: Ricotta cheese is made from the whey (the liquid that separates from the solids in cheese making) that is drained off while making mozzarella and provolone cheeses, according to the "Food Lover's Companion" by Sharon Tyler Herbst. In the United States, ricottas are made with a combination of whey and whole or skim milk. Ricotta means "re-cooked" and is derived from the fact that the cheese is made by heating the whey from another cooked cheese.

Kitchen Mailbox thanks the more than 40 readers who responded to the request from Alison Gregg of Washington, Pa., for the Zambellistic Grand Finale Cake recipe. Lack of space prevents us from printing all of your names, but we appreciate your involvement in the Kitchen Mailbox -- keep the letters and recipes coming.

Zambellistic Grand Finale Cake

1 yellow cake mix
2 pounds ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
Whipped topping
Fresh fruit for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into a 9-by-13-inch pan -- set aside. In separate bowl, blend well the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Pour ingredients over the prepared cake batter. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Let cake cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Before serving, top with whipped topping and fresh fruit.


Bill Boyles of McKeesport remembers a cake his mother used to bake called Harvest Cake: "It was neither white nor yellow batter, but what could be called light caramel. It usually had a sea foam icing and originated in the Harrisburg area." How about it, readers?

A.C. Dougherty of Scott is searching for a recipe for sweet and sour beef.

Helen McKeown of Brighton Heights wonders if any of our readers have a recipe for deviled eggs with shredded cucumbers.

Stephanie Tinney of Brookline writes: "We don't get to Jimmy Tsang's restaurant very often, but every time we go we get the same thing, Korean Honey Shrimp. Does anyone out there have this or a similar recipe?

Aurelia Smeltz of Mount Washington hopes to find the recipe for the salt-rising bread Sarah Evosevich served in her South Side restaurant, Sarah's. Aurelia recalls it was in a cookbook devoted to food served in the restaurant published shortly after it closed.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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