James Martin's rich, classic, coffee-flavoured Italian dessert is a classy way to round off your dinner party
By James Martin
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Serves 4-6
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 1 vanilla pod, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 250 ml double cream, lightly whipped
  • 350 ml strong fresh coffee, cooled
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 2 tbsp Kahlúa
  • 2 tbsp tia maria
  • about 300g sponge fingers, such as Savoiardi such as Savoiardi
  • 2–3 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted


1. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways, if using, and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife.

2. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar with the vanilla seeds or extract until thick and creamy using a hand-held electric or rotary whisk. The mixture is ready when a trail of foam forms as you lift up the beaters.

3. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Beat in the mascarpone, then fold in the whipped cream. Set aside.

4. Mix the coffee with the rum and liqueurs. Dunk the Italian biscuits or sponge fingers quickly into the coffee, making sure that they are completely immersed. If using sponge fingers, don't leave in the coffee for more than a second, or they will turn soggy. Arrange the biscuits or fingers in a layer in a serving bowl and top with half the mascarpone and cream mixture.

5. Repeat with another layer of dunked biscuits or fingers and the remaining mascarpone and cream mixture. Sift the cocoa powder over the top in an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Rate This Recipe