This very trendy and popular dessert was said to have Arabic origins. Florence also would like to claim it as its own. Whoever was responsible for it can well be proud; for it is truly a regal dessert... much like the popular English trifle. There are many variations of this dessert, I will include a few herein. You will also find a recipe on this site for mascarpone, which is an Italian cream cheese, available in specialty stores. Not finding it is not an acceptable excuse, for you can make your own. I can almost guarantee you will impress your guests (or whoever) with this dessert!
For the base, you can use a sponge cake or ladyfingers. You can either buy them or make them, but the cake must have a sponge base. Recipes for sponge cake and ladyfingers are included in the cake section.
This is the recipe I like the most, we had it in Verona one day as we were eating al fresco across from an ancient coliseum. We later went to a concert at the coliseum. My husband's cousins were kind enough to get the recipe from the owner, as they were friends.
Make a zabaglione first, see recipe elsewhere for method but use the amount that follows:
Make the zabaglione by beating the egg yolks with the sugar in the top of a double boiler. When it is fairly thick (don't boil the water, just simmer,) add the Marsala and whisk for a few more minutes. Watch it until it is done so the egg yolks do not cook. It should be as thick as custard when it is ready. Take it off the heat and let it cool. Add the whipped cream to softened mascarpone. Mix. Fold the beaten egg white into the zabaglione. Add to cream mixture.
If you are using a sponge cake, cut up into long strips to fit about a 9-inch glass dishor its equivalent in a glass bowl. You are going to make layers of the cake and mixture. Line the bottom with cake strips or ladyfingers. Mix the expresso with the liquor. Brush the cake with this mixture. Top the cake with half the mascarpone mixture. Repeat the process. You can add some more whipped cream to top it off. Sprinkle with the cocoa or the chocolate. Refrigerate for several hours to incorporate flavors. Serves 6 to 8.