This simple dessert is an indisputable classic of new Italian cuisine. Our take forgoes the standard coffee-sodden ladyfingers in favour a freshly made, coffee-brushed white chocolate sponge cake. The result is more luxurious, and a lot less mushy.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate Caramel Sauce

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp corn syrup

2 tbsp butter

1 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Mascarpone Cream

1 leaf gelatine

1 short espresso

1/2 cup icing sugar

10 oz mascarpone

2/3 cup 35% cream, whipped

Frappuccino (Optional)

300 ml condensed milk

2 long espressos

Coffee Syrup

1/4 cup sugar

1 long espresso

Sponge Cake

4 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 oz Chocolate Caramel Crunch (Optional)

1/2 cup sugar

4 oz white chocolate, chopped


Cocoa powder

Whipped cream (Optional)



For the crunch, spread a large sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup (60 mL) cold water in a saucepan. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until golden and thoroughly caramelized. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and follow with the chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Drop the caramel 1 tsp (5 mL) at a time onto the parchment paper, immediately spreading it with a small offset spatula into a long, thin smear. Your goal is for semi-translucent strips of hardened caramel about 1 inch (2 cm) wide and 4 inches (10 cm) long. If the caramel in the saucepan becomes too thick to work with, gently reheat it. When the sheets are done, set aside in a cool place.

If you intend to make the frappuccino, place the can of condensed milk in a small, deep saucepan, cover it com- pletely with water, and simmer on low heat for 3 hours, topping up the water to keep the can covered as required.

For the sponge cake, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan.

Place the eggs in a bowl of warm water and set aside for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour into a small bowl, crumble the caramel crunch into it, and mix well. Crack the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed until blended and beginning to froth. Add the sugar, and continue whisking until the volume has more than doubled and the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 7 minutes. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler, stirring until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the melted chocolate. Turn off the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the bowl and ensure that everything is properly incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture, and mix until it is incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and fold it in with the spatula. Pour the mixture into the springform pan. Bake until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre emerges clean, about 20 minutes. Cool the cake on a rack, and then transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

For the mascarpone cream, submerge the gelatine in a bowl of cold water. Combine the espresso and icing sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Squeeze the gelatine, add it to the saucepan, and stir again until dissolved. Transfer to a small bowl, and whisk in a scoop of the mascarpone. Transfer the remaining mascarpone to a large bowl, add the tempered espresso mixture, and whisk together until combined. Follow with the whipped cream, and whisk again. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill and thicken.

For the coffee syrup, combine the sugar with ¼ cup (60 mL) cold water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar is just dissolved. Set aside to cool. Stir in the espresso, transfer to a shallow bowl, and chill in the refrigerator.

To finish the frappuccino, whisk together half the simmered condensed milk with the 2 long espressos; refrigerate until cool.

To finish, cut the cake into 8 to 10 wedges. Dip each wedge into the chilled coffee syrup, flipping it in the liquid swiftly to cover. Arrange each dipped slice on a plate. Transfer the mascarpone cream to a piping bag and pipe a layer on top of each piece of cake. Follow with a sheet of caramel crunch, then a second layer of cream, and a final sheet of caramel crunch. If you made the frappuccino, shake it with crushed ice and serve in a small glass on the plate, topped with whipped cream. Sprinkle cocoa over the cake and the frappuccino and serve at once.

Tip: For best results, avoid even remotely granular mascarpone for this recipe and use the finest, smoothest Italian variety (like Foresti).

Shortcuts: While they make enjoyable additions to the finished plate, neither the caramel crunch nor the frappuccino is at all essential to this tiramisù. As well, the white chocolate sponge cake will still turn out admirably without any crumbled caramel in its batter. So feel free to save time by omitting both these elements, and simply serve the dipped cake topped with mascarpone-coffee cream.


[From: Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica: Great Italian Recipes Made Easy for Home by Mark McEwan. Copyright © General Purpose Entertainment, 2011. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Group (Canada), a Division of Pearson Canada Inc.]