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You may want to buy two packets of sponge fingers as depending on the serving dish you make this in you may need a few extra to fill in any gaps. Climpson & Sons Midnight Oil coffee liqueur is my favourite booze to use, as it’s such a sophisticated flavour and not at all sweet, but obviously you can substitute another brand if you can’t get hold of it.

Serves 4-6

  • 2 whole eggs, separated
  • 80g/2¾oz caster sugar
  • 454g/1lb mascarpone cheese
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 200ml/7 fl oz strong black coffee
  • 200ml/ 7 fl oz Climpson & Sons coffee liqueur
  • 175g/6oz packet of sponge fingers
  • Dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa), or cocoa powder, to finish

Place the egg yolks with half of the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat them together on a medium setting for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and the mascarpone and continue mixing on a low setting for another 2 minutes until smooth. Transfer this mixture to another large bowl and then wash and carefully dry the mixer bowl.

Now beat the egg whites and the rest of the sugar together in the mixer until soft peaks are formed. Gently fold this into the mascarpone mixture, making sure you don’t lose any of the air you’ve just beaten into your eggs.

Next make a strong filter coffee (I use 3 scoops of medium roast blend in a filter paper set over a measuring jug). Mix with the coffee liqueur and transfer to a shallow dish, wide enough to easily dip your sponge fingers into it. Dipping the fingers one or two at a time, soak them for 3–5 seconds to slightly soften and absorb the liquid, then arrange them in a single layer in the base of your serving dish.

Once your base layer is neatly arranged, spread half the mascarpone mixture over grate a generous amount of chocolate over the top. How much is up to you, you want just enough to taste the chocolate through the coffee flavour. Repeat the layers once more – sponge fingers, mascarpone and chocolate – then leave to set in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours before serving.