• 2½ cups strong black coffee, room temperature
  • 1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 9 tablespoons dark rum
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds mascarpone cheese (cold) – do not soften to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream for adding to yolks
  • ¾ cup heavy cream (cold) for whipping
  • 14 ounces hard ladyfingers* (42 to 60 depending on size)
  • 3½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated


  1. Stir coffee, espresso powder and 5 tablespoons rum in a wide bowl or baking dish until espresso is dissolved; set aside. For a less potent rum flavor use only 2½ tablespoons rum.
  2. In a medium heatproof mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer equipped with a whisk attachment at low speed just until combined.
  3. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium–high speed until mixture is pale yellow, 1½ to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula once or twice.
  4. Add 1/3 cup cream to yolks and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl.
  5. Set bowl with egg mixture over medium saucepan containing 1–inch of gently simmering water; cook, constantly scraping along bottom and sides of bowl with a heatproof spatula, until mixture coats the back of a spoon and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 4 to 7 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  7. Whisk in, by hand, the remaining 4 tablespoons rum until well combined.
  8. Using the electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, at medium speed, beat in the mascarpone cheese until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds.
  9. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
  10. Pour ¾ cup heavy cream into the now empty medium bowl, replace the whisk attachment with beaters, and beat at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1½ minutes.
  11. Increase speed to high, and beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 ½ minutes longer.
  12. Using a rubber spatula, fold one–third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mixture aside.
  13. Working one at a time, drop about half the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture, quickly roll, remove and transfer to a 13x9–inch pan, arranging in a single layer. Break or trim ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.
  14. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; spread mixture smoothly and evenly to the corners and sides of the pan.
  15. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust evenly over mascarpone. Sprinkle with half the grated chocolate.
  16. Repeat all layers once with remaining ingredients.
  17. Carefully wipe edges of the dish with a dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
  18. Cut into pieces and serve chilled.


Note: If only soft ladyfingers are available, preheat oven to 350 degrees, arrange ladyfingers in a single layer on baking sheet, and bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack before using.

Yields: 10–12 servings

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