Like our British trifle, the Italian tiramisu has many variations and no-one can agree on a definitive recipe. Claudia Roden’s version, which I learned to make as a teenager, uses eggs, rum, a single layer of sponge and chocolate sprinkled on the top only. This decadent espresso martini tiramisu recipe from Olive magazine (see their handy video here) contains no eggs, has sponge and chocolate layered throughout and gets its alcoholic punch from Kahlúa and vodka. (Those spirits are the classic ingredients for a White Russian cocktail, by the way – just shake up with milk or cream.) The quantities here are enormous: make sure you use a big enough dish.

Serves 10-12

400ml strong black coffee
2 tsp brown sugar
4 tbsp vodka
4 tbsp Kahlúa
500g mascarpone
600ml double cream
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp instant espresso coffee powder
300g savoiardi sponge fingers
50g dark chocolate
cocoa powder for dusting


1. Mix the black coffee, brown sugar, vodka and 3 tbsp of the Kahlúa in a shallow bowl. Mix the mascarpone in a separate bowl for 2 minutes to break it up, then beat in the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla with electric beaters until it forms soft peaks. Spoon out 1/3 of the cream into another bowl. Mix the coffee powder with the rest of the Kahlúa and stir in to make a coffee cream.

2. Dip the sponge fingers briefly into the vodka-coffee mixture, then put a single layer of the fingers in the base of a large serving dish.

3. Spoon over 1/2 of the plain cream, then finely grate over a generous layer of dark chocolate. Layer on more soaked sponge fingers, and spoon over the coffee cream then another layer of grated chocolate. Add another layer of fingers then finish with the rest of the plain cream. Chill until ready to serve, but for at least 4 hours. Dust with cocoa powder to finish.

Published by motherrach

Alongside this blog, which records tried and tested family favourites, I’m documenting on Instagram (mother_rach_cooks) my efforts in repertoire expansion.

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