Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Mascarpone Cake and Philosophical Discussions

So, its been 7 weeks now since we arrived in Modena.

The nights are getting longer and the chill in the air is starting to bite first thing in the morning.
Italian children go to school wearing 4 to 5 layers of clothing, only to have them removed meticulously, once inside. The temperature in the classrooms can rise up to 38 degrees celsius, and thats without the heating on lol.

In my classroom, temperatures rise quite high on a Tuesday and Thursday evening. Don't get me wrong, I do love all my students, but I have a weak spot for this group because they do enjoy a heated debate.

Now, picture the scene. A group of youngish professionals, highly educated and incredibly communicative, chatting to each other about the meaning of happiness and what defines intelligence in an English level equivalent to that of a semi beginner! I am so proud of them! I am in awe of them!
I throw little hooks in to get them chatting and I sit back and enjoy it to the full, whilst correcting, practising, drilling and teaching here and there.

But it is them who make the lesson. With their enthusiam, knowledge, insights and thirst for learning that make it an incredible experience! I can honestly say that I enjoy every microsecond of it...

So this recipe comes from one of those amazing characters.
Vannalisa is sweet, genuine, incredibly keen and molto, molto carina (lovely).
Her mum is an amazing cook and Vanallisa has shared this recipe with me, which is particularly special to her because her mum has cooked this cake for her every year on her birthday!

It is very similar to Tiramisu but with slight variations! I hope you do try it.
Mascarpone Cake

. 500 gs of Mascarpone (you can find it at in the fridge counter at the supermarket. It's very common in Italy!)
 .100 gs of thinly cut toasted almonds
. 20 dried biscuits ( original recipe asks for 'Savoiardi' or ladyfingers,  but I prefer normal dried biscuits, for example 'Oro Saiwa' or 'Pavesini') 
. 15 to 20 macaroons such as 'amaretti'
. 250 gs of sugar
. 250 gs of chocolate flakes
. Coffee liquer 'Sassolino' for soaking the biscuits . As you prefer. If you don't like liquer, like me, you can soak them in some milky coffee and you will still have a very good cake!

 . 3 eggs


Separate the egg yolks from the whites

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar. Whisk the whites (very well, please!) and mix the yolk and sugar mixture, including the whites with the nascarpone.
Add the crushed amaretti and toasted dried almonds.

Before putting the biscuits into the cake dish, soak them in the Sassolino or simply in the milky coffee (I think it's better, especially for your son, you dont want him to get drunk lol)
Be careful when you soak them as the biscuits must remain whole.

Pad the cake dish with the biscuits, creating the base and edge of the cake.

Pour over a layer of the mascarpone mixture and top with biscuits. 
Repeat as above, layer upon layer, ( your final layer should be of the mascarpone mixture).

Garnish the final layer layer with the chocolate chips and place in the fridge foor a few hours.

Buon Appetito!

I hope you like it. 
With love,



  1. Vannalisa, Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful recipe from Italy! My boys would love this and maybe I'll make this for them on their birthday. I just have to find some of these ingredients ;) Besitos Ruth, you are such a wonderful teacher!!

  2. great recipe so so happy that you are enjoying your work

  3. Such a simple and tasty dessert. I'd say it's like an easy version of tiramisu!

  4. Mouth is watering! Your students give the BEST recipes! What a special touch the almondy layer is!

  5. I am loving your Italian students! They have great recipes.

  6. Hmmm ...sounds so delicious ... shades of tiramisu. I love the tales of the students. Teaching can be so grand!

  7. I love this story and the recipe for this cake goes without saying. It is so exciting and inspiring to work with a group of people that are passionate about what they do and want to do!

  8. The mascarpone cake looks amazing, thanks Vannalisa for sharing this special recipe!

  9. Hi Ruth !
    Do you know anything I can substitute the raw eggs for ?
    Thanks !
    Your students are geniuses !

  10. Thank you everyone for the lovely comments! Going to make it tomorrow and take it to the class as a Xmas gift or maybe not lol Anonymous I think you can coook the egg yolks in a banne marie if that helps :)

  11. Nice, thanks for share, I like to cook and make new stuff, but I don't have to much time, so I look simple recieps.

  12. Great thanks for share, sometimes I want to make something different but I never find someone to do hahaha

  13. Heaven. Mascarpone is just heaven. So delicious but very bad if you are on a diet like me LOL

  14. HI, can u whrite a ricept to prerear the Pizza?)

  15. I am pleased to have read some of them on your blog.