No one is quite sure why this dessert is called “pick me up” in Italian, but it is assumed the name comes from the jolt of caffeine it provides from the coffee and chocolate. While the classic version contains raw egg yolks mixed in with the mascarpone, my version is eggless because I do not like the flavor of raw eggs and find they make the dessert heavier than it needs to be.
Savoiardi—crisp ladyfingers imported from Italy—are widely available, but ordinary lady fingers or slices of plain cake can be substituted. If you like, add a couple of tablespoons of rum or cognac to the coffee.
Makes8 to 10 servings
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, rich, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- 1 cup chilled heavy or whipping cream
- 1 pound mascarpone
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 24 savoiardi (imported Italian ladyfingers)
- 1 cup brewed espresso coffee at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
At least 20 minutes before you are ready to make the dessert, place a large bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer in the refrigerator.
When ready, remove the bowl and beaters from the refrigerator. Pour the cream into the bowl and whip the cream at high speed until it holds its shape softly when the beaters are lifted, about 4 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Take about one third of the whipped cream, and with a flexible spatula, gently fold it into the mascarpone mixture to lighten it. Carefully fold in the remaining cream.
Lightly and quickly dip half of the savoiardi in the coffee. (Do not saturate them or they will fall apart.) Arrange the cookies in a single layer in a 9 × 2–inch square or round serving dish. Spoon on half of the mascarpone cream.
Dip the remaining savoiardi in the coffee and arrange them in a layer over the mascarpone. Top with the remaining mascarpone mixture and spread it smooth with the spatula. Place the cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and shake it over the top of the dessert. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours or overnight so that the flavors can meld. It will keep well in the refrigerator up to 24 hours.
2004 Michele Scicolone