Cocomisu: or the bastardisation of Italian desserts

First of all: I am not your trusted Hackstress – you will find no delicious Malaysian restaurant reviews in this post, nor tips for hot cafes in the Eastern suburbs, since not all of us are fortunate enough to live near them. (Though we can read about them and get jealous.)

My good friend, former colleague, and co-foodie has invited me to share a hack on her blog, so thanks!

As our Hackstress has noticed from my tendency to bring Italian baked goods into the office, I like to cook European sweets. And as she has probably also noticed from the fact that said sweets tend to flop or fall over, I don’t cook them according to recipes or traditions of any sort.

With that in mind, here’s one that actually worked.

I had a cooking session with my boyfriend’s sister Naomi, which was well-timed, since her brother had a room full of hungry board-gaming 20-something blokes calling brutishly for cookies from the downstairs living room. We baked a strategic batch of chocolate chip cookies to lull them into a sugar-coma so that they wouldn’t notice us preparing the real treat: tiramisu!

Naomi had recently given up coffee (quite an achievement, for a woman who once downed 5 shots of espresso in 90 minutes.) And since the tiramisu was to be consumed by church volunteers, we thought it inappropriate to stuff it full of liquor the way the Italians do.

That led to Naomi’s mega-brainwave. It went something like this: hot cocoa is good. Tiramisu is good.


We set to work soaking sponge fingers in hot, sugary, frothy cocoa.

Mmm, cocoa-y.
Hardly any of the cocoa ended up in our bellies.

Then we layered up with thick mascarpone cream. Sidenote: I suspect that the mascarpone cream used in tiramisu is the most voluptuous food ever invented. It is physically impossible to lick the spoon without involuntarily groaning. Again, hardly any in bellies. Ahem.

Generous dustings of cocoa powder (the unadulterated baking kind, not the wimpy ‘drinking chocolate’ kind) finished the job. The next morning, a group of church volunteers consumed a dessert that no doubt reinforced their faith in a beneficent deity. Since I was not part of that group, I had to make several more tiramisus in the coming weeks. (Mocha raspberry. Salted caramel. Tea & pomegranate. And so on.)

For those who are sick of consuming their cocoa and tiramisu separately, here’s the recipe:

Approx. 20 sponge fingers (we used one packet)
1 large mug hot cocoa, prepared however you like it
2 eggs, separated
250g mascarpone
100g sugar
Cocoa powder, for dusting


In a large bowl, sprinkle the sugar over the egg whites. Working quickly so that the yolks don’t harden, whisk them up until they turn pale – around 2 minutes or so with an electric beater. Dump in all the mascarpone, and whisk some more. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks form. Gently mix the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.

Layer the sponge fingers across the bottom of your dish, fitting in as many as you can. Drizzle over half the cocoa until the sponge fingers look somewhat drowned, but not soggy. Smooth over half of the mascarpone cream, then dust with cocoa powder. Layering upwards, repeat the process again: sponge fingers, cocoa, mascarpone cream, cocoa powder.

Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to let everything firm up. Serves 8 if you like generous servings, up to 12 if you’re miserly.

Spoon: about to get very clean, before it goes in the dishwasher.

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