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Our version of tiramisu follows its namesake (literally, pick me up). It really does what it says! Whether it’s the sugar in the meringue, the bracing liqueur or the generous hit of coffee, it certainly leaves you feeling better than when you started. Now a modern classic you will find it all over Italy and indeed all over the world. We have made our version from the same recipe for many years now and it gives a nod to its Veneto origins.


Pavesini biscuits are smaller than savoiardi, which changes the ratio of cream to biscuit and gives a result I really like. If you prefer to use just use one liqueur here, leave out the Sambuca and double the quantity of Strega.


Serves 12

2 egg yolks

125 g caster sugar

1 kg mascarpone

11⁄2 tablespoons Strega liqueur

11⁄2 tablespoons white Sambuca

1 cup (250 ml) espresso coffee

160 g (60–70) Pavesini biscuits

200 g dark chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder


Sugar syrup

125 g caster sugar



375 g caster sugar 6 egg whites


To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat to dissolve the sugar, then remove and set aside to cool.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, then whisk in the mascarpone and liqueurs for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick like piping cream. Set aside.

To make the meringue, combine the caster sugar and 4 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to softball stage (115°C), using a sugar thermometer to check the temperature. When the sugar is nearly at temperature, place the egg whites in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start to whisk on high speed – the whites should be frothy when the sugar reaches 115°C. Slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin steam, then whisk on high speed for 5 minutes.

Add the espresso to the cooled sugar syrup and warm slightly. Briefly dunk a few biscuits at a time in the mixture until well soaked but not falling apart, shaking off any excess liquid. Line the bottom and sides of a large ceramic bowl with half the soaked biscuits, then sprinkle half the chopped chocolate over the biscuits.

Fold the meringue into the mascarpone mixture, then spoon half over the biscuits in the bowl, filling it halfway. Place another layer of soaked biscuits on top, sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate and cover with the remaining mascarpone mixture. Smooth the top and dust with the cocoa powder. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours before serving.


This is an edited extract from The Cellar Bar by Guy Grossi published by Penguin Random House. 

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