I made tiramisu twice over Christmas. The first time I managed to achieve a lovely peaked effect with the topping but the next time I think I over did the coffee and marsala and the result was more like a cocktail – but just as delicious.

I’m not keen on Christmas pudding or mince pies so my Christmas desserts are usually unseasonal. For Christmas Eve I made raspberry Pavlova and we had the tiramisu both on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

This is based on Nigella’s recipe, except I didn’t have any coffee liqueur. The first time I made this I couldn’t find any sponge fingers when I went shopping but used Bonne Maman Madeleines instead.

 Here’s my version of Nigella’s recipe. Serves four.


  • Egg whites from 2 large eggs
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 4 sponge fingers or 4 madeleines
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 100ml espresso coffee (I used strong leftover cafetière coffee)
  • 2 tablespoons marsala
  • Cocoa powder for dusting


  1. Make your espresso/coffee and allow to cool. I always have strong leftover coffee from a cafetière I use.
  2. Break each sponge finger or madeleine into about 4 and drop the pieces into martini glasses, then pour the coffee over them. Tamp down gently, making sure the biscuits are soaked all over.
  3. Using an electric hand-held whisk beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, and set aside for a moment.
  4. Scrape the mascarpone into another bowl, adding the honey. Beat with the whisk (no need to clean it first) and, when smooth, slowly beat in the marsala.
  5. Fold in the egg whites, a third at a time, then dollop this mixture over the sponge fingers/madeleines in each glass, using a spoon to whirl it into a swirly peak at the top (or in my second attempt watch it float precariously).
  6. Let these stand in the fridge for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours, then dust with cocoa, pushing it through a fine-mesh strainer, just before serving.
Better peaks for the topping!

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