For the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cool and stir in the espresso and brandy.
For the zabaione filling, beat the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer or another heat-proof bowl and beat in the sugar and Marsala. Whisk over a pan of simmering water until thickened. Remove and beat, either with a hand mixer set at medium speed or in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whip, until cold. Smash the mascarpone in a bowl with a rubber spatula until it is smooth. Fold in the zabaione. Whip the cream and fold it in.
Cut the pan di spagna into vertical slices about
Whip the cream with the sugar until it holds its shape and spread it on the surface of the dessert. Decorate with the cinnamon and ground coffee or the cocoa powder. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Substitute a layer of Polenta Dolce for the pan di spagna. Omit the espresso from the syrup so that the corn flavor is apparent. This makes an unusually good and thoroughly nontraditional twist on the traditional tiramisù.
© 1990 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.