This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.


This is a very old recipe from Venice, Italy. It means "pick-me-up."


Mascarpone Zabaglione

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup Marsala
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature

For assembly

  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 store-bought sponge cake
  • 6 ounces grated semisweet chocolate


  1. Mascarpone Zabaglione: Beat yolks and sugar in large bowl until pale and thick, about 1 minute.
  2. Add Marsala and place bowl over a pan of simmering water, beating constantly by hand or with an electric mixer on low, until the mixture thickens and triples in volume, about 12 minutes. The yolks should be very fluffy and soft, like a whipped custard. Be careful not to overcook or the yolks will curdle. Remove from heat, stirring occasionally, to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover, and chill.
  4. In a cold bowl and with cold beaters, whip cream to stiff peaks. Fold a scoop of the cream into the mascarpone cheese to lighten the cheese so it will blend easily.
  5. Fold in remaining cream, then the chilled zabaglione.
  6. For assembly: Make a dipping liquid of the coffee, sugar, rum and vanilla extract. Cut the sponge cake into 3 x 1 1/2-inch rectangular strips. Dunk pieces of cake into the coffee liquid, then arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of an 8- to 10-cup baking dish or shallow bowl. When the bottom is covered with cake, spoon half the mascarpone custard on top and smooth over. Top with half the grated chocolate. Top with another layer of coffee-dunker cake, then with remaining mascarpone custard.
  7. Cover decoratively with remaining grated chocolate.
  8. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To serve, cut into squares or wedges.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.