Inspired by our recent visit to Northern Italy, we decided to go Italian for a dinner with friends last weekend. It wasn’t a dinner party for two reasons. Firstly, there were five of us and we only have two dinning chairs at the moment. Secondly, desert came out in a rather inelegant glass baking dish. Despite the awkward serving, it tasted great.

I take my recipe from a wonderful book by Anna del Conte: The Concise Gastronomy of Italy. As usual, I don’t quite follow her recipe because she recommends including small chunks of chocolate inside the tiramisu which are a little hard and lumpy for me. Also, her quantities of brandy and coffee aren’t quite right: the last time I tried it I had to make up her coffee-mix three times for all the ladyfingers, which meant that I managed to get a rather greedy friend slightly drunk.

300 ml strong coffee I use plunger or run down to the local cafe for espresso
7 teaspoons brandy
80 grams dark chocolate (75%)
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs yolks (or 4 small ones)
4 tablespoons caster sugar
250 grams mascarpone
2 large egg whites (or 3 small ones)
1 packet of Savoiardi or Lady-finger biscuits (bizarrely there were 19 in my pack)

Mix the coffee and brandy. Grate the chocolate.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar into pale and soft peaks. Mix the mascarpone in a little at a time, then beat until smooth. Whisk the egg whites to stiff and carefully fold into the egg mixture.
Dip the biscuits into the coffee mixture and turn them over once only (otherwise they become too soggy). Lay the about 7 biscuits on the bottom of an oval dish. Spread over about 1/3 of the mascarpone egg mixture. Cover this layer in 1/3 of of grated chocolate. Layer with another 6 or 7 biscuits and another 1/3 of the mascarpone egg mixture and another 1/3 of the grated chocolate. Layer with the remaining biscuits and top with the remaining mascarpone egg cream. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least five hours.
Before serving, cover with the remaining grated chocolate. Mix the cinnamon and cocoa together and sift lightly over the top of the chocolate.
Peckhams stocks Savoiardi biscuts if you can’t find them at the market.

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