Whenever I need to feed the masses I make this for dessert. It’s quick and easy to put together, best made the day before and always received with pleasure. This particular version was made early in the morning for a dinner to come that night. Really it’s best made the night before but even if you’re pushed for time, 12 hours is the minimum refrigeration time needed to develop the flavours.
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 a cup of caster sugar
- A splash of sweet marsala/port/sherry
- 300g cream
- 500g Mascarpone cheese (or Philadelphia cheese)
- 500g packet of Savoirdi “lady finger” biscuits
- 1 or 2 punnets of strawberries (to your taste)
- 3 heaped tbs of Cocoa powder to dust.
- 1 cup of strong coffee, cooled
Although the strawberries are probably quite inauthentic I love them, or fresh cherries when in season, as they cut through the richness of the dish and make it very addictive! The ingredients given above will fill a large lasagna dish, as you will see in my photos. Although here I have used the Unibic brand of savoiardi, you can see my preferred brand below, and indeed nearly any Italian savoiardi is much nicer, being thinner than the Unibic biscuits. This thin size allows them to be more easily molded to fit your dish, as well as absorbing the cream and egg mix more quickly.
The first thing to do is to get out three mixing bowls. In the largest, place the egg yolks and sugar. In another place the egg whites and in the third bowl place the cream. Check that the bowls for cream and egg whites are ‘bone’ dry otherwise it will be difficult to whip them to stiff peaks.
With electric beater, first whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed, then wash and thoroughly dry your beaters before beating the cream until stiff peaks are formed. Now beat together your egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
To the egg yolk mix add the mascarpone cheese and a splash of marsala. Beat well until all the mixed well, thick and creamy.
Now with a spatula or metal spoon, gently fold in the whipped cream and then the egg whites. Put this mixture aside and assemble the savoiardi in the tray.
Placing the coffee in a container wide enough to accommodate the length of the savoiadri, add some marsala to your taste and dip once side only into the mixture for a few seconds, then lay ‘wet’ side down in the tray. Continue until you have covered the tray.
If you are using strawberries, cut them into thin slices and layer them over the biscuits.
Now spread half your cream mixture over the biscuits, reserving half for the next layer.
Dip more savoiardi biscuits and create another layer. Add more strawberries on top if you wish and put the remainder of the cream mixture over the top, cover with glad wrap and store in the fridge for as long as you can wait. Just before serving, dust the top with another layer of cocoa powder and spoon out generous serves in pretty bowls. I have always found it difficult to present this well but it never seems to matter; it always disappears anyway!
As you can see, I completely forgot to take a picture when I served it (we were too busy eating it!).If you are feeding less than 12 people, you could layer this in a pretty glass salad/trifle bowl, where the colour of the strawberries will add to the dish. In this case, you should also decrease the mascarpone to 250g but leave all other quantities as they are.