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Recipe Collection

Two Booze Tiramisu

Matt Russell — Bitter Honey — 2020

A cliché it may be, but the Sards are no less fond of this 1950s Italian classic than I am, and I see no reason not to be, because when done well, it can be one of the nicest things to eat. Don’t be put off by mediocre tiramisu experiences – this recipe is totally fool-proof, and I have fed it to many Sardinians, who declared it is the best they have ever tasted.

Literally translated as ‘pick-me-up,’ tiramisu is not only delicious as a dessert: it is the perfect thing for breakfast after a heavy night, the booze and coffee providing both the hair-of-the-dog and the caffeine necessary. There is no time of any day, in fact, when a little pick-me-up is not welcome.

Serves: 4 greedy people, or 6 ascetics

Time: 30 minutes + 1 hour chilling

Photography: Matt Russell, Styling: Tamara Vos

Season: Year Round


3 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
500g mascarpone
200ml strong black espresso coffee

80ml marsala
1½ tablespoons brandy
20–24 Savoiardi (ladyfinger) biscuits
5 tbsp bitter cocoa powder, for dredging


  1. Place the yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric beater (or in a stand mixer) until they become thick, pale and mousse-like. Mix in the mascarpone by hand, folding it in until completely incorporated.

  2. In a small bowl, mix the coffee with the marsala and brandy.

  3. Whisk the egg whites until smooth, creamy peaks are formed, but not too stiff so that they become dry. Fold into the mascarpone mixture, incorporating them gently so as not to lose too much air.

  4. Dunk the Savoiardi briefly into the coffee mixture, making sure they are fully immersed, and arrange them on the base of your chosen serving bowl (see cook’s notes below). The idea is not to have them either sopping or still-crisp, but somewhere in between. I dip, hold for a second, turn and hold for another second, and then remove. It pays to be diligent here, as no one wants a tiramisu swimming in liquid.

  5. Scoop the first half of the mascarpone mixture over the biscuit layer. Spread out evenly. Repeat the soaked-Savoiardi layer and then finish with the second mascarpone layer on top of this.

  6. Dredge well with bitter cocoa powder and place in the fridge to set for at least an hour or two. If you like, you can add more cocoa powder just before serving, but I like it when it has slightly melted into the cream.

Read more: Bitter Honey

If you’re after a Sardinian summer, Letitia Clark’s Bitter Honey will give you it. It’s the summer holiday we spent all of 2020 dreaming of and you’ll want a copy on your shelf. Published by Hardie Grant, £26. Photography © Matt Russell. 

— cook’s notes

For me the key is the quantity of alcohol. Like a good trifle, it is this boozy kick that elevates the childhood nostalgia of a custardy cream and cake combo into something a little more adult and refined. I like to make mine in a big dish or trifle bowl for serving by the generous scoopful, rather than in individual portions. A traditional tiramisu has only two layers of biscuit, but you can scale this recipe up quite easily, or use a tall but narrow vessel, as I have done here, to create more layers.

— about the author

Letitia Clark was born in Devon. After graduating with a degree and masters in English Literature she went on to complete a diploma at Leith’s School of Food and Wine. She spent several years working in professional kitchens (Ellory, The Dock Kitchen & Spring) before moving to Sardinia in 2017 and beginning to write abut food as well as cooking it.

Her first book, Bitter Honey, was published in 2020, and her second book, La Vita e Dolce, will be published this June. She also paints & illustrates in watercolours.


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