I first made up this recipe for my dear friend Audra, back when we were in Sydney together. The original recipe is more than ten years old, and was posted on my BioLOG.

Jenny wanted this for her birthday, to follow the lasagne, and I was happy to oblige. What with one thing and another she didn’t get to try it for a couple of days after, although Joshua and I both had sneaky servings in the meantime.

The recipe itself isn’t from a cookbook (because if nothing else that would defeat part of the purpose of this site!) but as you’ll see if you follow the original link it’s one that I invented after being overwhelmed by the sheer number of variations I could find online… and the one on the packet of sponge fingers.

Speaking of which, sponge fingers are incredibly cheap. I don’t know why they’re not in more recipes.

One more thing. You must let this sit in the fridge at least overnight. I’d forgotten that this time, but fortuitously I’d planned to make it the night before anyway, as I was on school run duty and had a longer evening.


(because here, apart from the coffee and liquor, the proportions probably are important)

  • Six eggs, separated
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • splodge real vanilla essence
  • pack of Savoiardi (sponge fingers)
  • two double espressos, preferably from my lovely Sage Duo Temp Pro
  • ~1/4 cup brandy or other strong brown spirit
  • 500 g (two tubs) mascarpone


  1. Prepare the espresso and let cool
  2. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar (hand balloon whisk) until pale yellow and smooth and creamy, and most of the sugar is dissolved. You don’t need caster sugar, ordinary granulated will do, but the caster dissolves faster. Mix in the vanilla essence
  3. Fold in one of the tubs of mascarpone and beat for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the mascarpone and beat again until smooth and all the sugar is dissolved
  4. In a clean bowl beat the egg whites and a generous pinch of sugar until stiff peaks form. I recommend an electric beater for this step
  5. Gently combine the meringue with the yolk custard, a little at a time, until completely mixed
  6. Pour the espresso into a shallow container (e.g. Chinese takeaway box) and stir in the brandy
  7. Dip each ladyfinger, sugar-side, into the coffee/brandy for about 2 seconds, and place on the bottom of the serving tray, dry side down, until the base is covered. You can let the sponge soak for longer if you prefer a soggier tiramisu
  8. Cover the base with ~1/2 the custard. Sprinkle cocoa over it through a tea strainer
  9. Repeat for a second layer of savoiardi, followed by the rest of the cream. Sprinkle with more cocoa
  10. Refrigerate overnight

I think Audra was impressed. I know Jenny loved it. But then they’ve both got immeasurably good taste, sharing the same birthday and all.