Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 8–10


Appears in

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

  • About

The Black Forest Gâteau for the 1990s, naffer than naff, yet somehow delicious. I make ridiculously complicated ones in my restaurants, but this is much simpler, and generally a huge success with the guests in Italy. The name means ‘pick-me-up’.


  • 4 eggs
  • 8 tbsp caster sugar
  • 750 g mascarpone cheese
  • 1 wine glass Marsala wine
  • 1 wine glass Scotch whisky
  • 600 ml strong sweetened coffee (the only good use for the instant espresso)
  • 2 packets sponge fingers (Italian are best)
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • good-quality dark chocolate


Combine the eggs and sugar, and beat with an electric hand whisk until stiff and white. By hand, incorporate the mascarpone, a spoonful at a time, by folding it in. Add the glass of Marsala, and whisk in quickly, trying all the time not to lose the volume of the beaten eggs and sugar. Add the whisky to the sweetened coffee and pour into a tray. Briefly dip the biscuits into this mixture, making sure they don’t get saturated, and arrange in a radial pattern in the bottom of a 25 cm spring-clip tin, cutting wedges off the biscuits to fill the gaps. Spoon over half the mascarpone mix, lightly dust with cocoa, and repeat the layers of sponge fingers, mascarpone and cocoa. Grate a fine layer of good-quality dark chocolate over the finished pudding.

Chill for a minimum of 6 hours or, even better, overnight. When ready to serve, run a knife round the rim of the cake tin, pop the spring and pray.