My husband Tom told me that tiramisu first came to England on an Alitalia flight from Rome some years ago. It jumped off at Heathrow, made for the open fields, and has multiplied to the extent that it has been found on every Italian, neo-Italian and pseudo-Italian menu since then.


  • 250 g (¼ lb) sponge fingers
  • 150 mls (¼ pint) strong black coffee or espresso
  • 3 tablespoons cognac
  • 250 g (½ lb) mascarpone or cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons thick yoghurt
  • 100 g (4 oz) ricotta
  • 100 g (4 oz) icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
  • 2-3 free-range egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon grated plain chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground coffee


Dip half the sponge fingers in the mixed coffee and cognac, and place in the bottom of a glass serving bowl. Blend the mascarpone, yoghurt, ricotta, sugar and vanilla essence until smooth. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and fold into the creamy mixture. Spoon half of it into the glass bowl. Cover with the remaining sponge fingers, dipped in the coffee and cognac mixture, and then spoon on the rest of the cream, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle the surface with the chocolate and coffee, then cover, and refrigerate for several hours before serving.