Russell Norman, the brains behind London restuarant Polpo, demonstrates how to make tiramisù.


Often tiramisù is made in a large tray and then portioned into squares, like lasagne. We prefer to make them individually in 150ml tumblers. They refrigerate better and are somehow more fun to eat.

The recipe is taken from 'Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts)' by Russell Norman (publ. Bloomsbury, photo: Jenny Zarins)

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Tips and Techniques

  1. Use the best coffee you can - if you don't have espresso, use strong black filter coffee
  2. Rum works best as it has a more subtle taste and sits well with the other ingredients, but you can use other liqueurs such as brandy
  3. The egg whites should be whisked until stiff, similar to a meringue
  4. The egg yolks can be whisked with a clean whisk or you can use a fork
  5. If you don't have Marsala, you could use sweet sherry instead


For twelve pots:

  • 6 double espressos (or 360ml very strong coffee), warm
  • 4 tablespoons dark rum
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 6 medium free-range eggs, separated
  • 120ml Marsala
  • 500mg mascarpone
  • 1 packet of Savoiardi sponge fingers (you need 24 biscuits)
  • Cocoa powder

Preparation method

Start by combining the warm espresso coffee with the rum and 50g of the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.

Separate the eggs and reserve the yolks in a large bowl. In another clean bowl, whisk the whites until they are stiff. Add the remaining sugar and the Marsala to the yolks. Whisk until pale and fluffy, add the mascarpone and gently stir it in. Fold the whisked whites into the yolk mixture.

For each glass you will need approximately 2 sponge fingers. Dip a sponge finger in the coffee mixture and let it absorb enough of the liquid to wet the whole thing without breaking it up. Place one half in the bottom of your glass. Spoon over 1 tablespoon of the mascarpone cream. Place the other half biscuit on top and spoon over another tablespoon of cream. At this point sprinkle over a little cocoa powder. Take another sodden sponge finger, break in two and lay both halves on top. Cover in a little more cream. Repeat this for all 12 glasses and store, covered in the fridge, for no fewer than 8 hours, so they are properly set.

Just before serving, liberally dust the top of the pots with cocoa powder.

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