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Ready-made versions of Tiramisu, which are fluffy and over-sweet, have given this traditional Italian pudding a bad name. The real thing is rich and strongly flavoured with coffee, vanilla and brandy. Tiramisu literally means ‘pick-me-up’ from its energy-giving combination of raw egg, coffee and cream. 

Rachel Demuth's Tiramisu


Serves: 6-8


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 80g vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 250ml double cream
  • 3 tbsps marsala wine
  • 24 sponge fingers
  • 80g vanilla sugar
  • 300ml shot espresso coffee
  • 2 tbsps coffee liqueur or chocolate liqueur
  • 2 tbsps brandy
  • 100g dark chocolate, peeled into curls
  • 4 tbsps cocoa powder for dusting


  1. Whisk the egg yolks, vanilla sugar and vanilla essence together in a bowl over steaming hot water until pale and doubled in volume. Whisk together the mascarpone, double cream and marsala together until thick. Whisk the two mixtures together.
  2. Make up the dip for the sponge fingers. Dissolve the vanilla sugar with the hot espresso then add the coffee liqueur and brandy.
  3. Dip the sponge fingers into the coffee mixture, so that they evenly absorb the liquid. You want the sponge fingers to absorb as much liquid as possible without turning soggy.
  4. Line the base and sides of a large bread tin with a strip of baking parchment long enough to hang over at the ends. This will enable you to easily lift the Tirimisu out of the tin to serve.
  5. Aim to make 3 layers of mascarpone and 3 layers of biscuits with 8 sponge biscuits on each layer.
  6. Start with a layer of biscuits, sprinkle over a little dark chocolate and a dusting of cocoa. Spread a layer of the mascarpone mixture all over. Arrange 8 more sponge biscuits on top, more chocolate and cocoa, then another layer of mascarpone and another layer of biscuits, then the last of the chocolate and some more cocoa.
  7. Finish with a mascarpone layer and sift on the remaining cocoa powder.
  8. Chill and leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. The Tirimisu improves over time and is very good served the next day.
  9. To serve take it out of the tin using the baking parchment tails, serve on an oblong white serving dish cut into thin slices.


  • Try layering the ingredients in small ramekins for individual portions.
  • Delicious as a semi freddo, half frozen, Italian style! 

Rachel Demuth's Tiramisu