From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering
Makes 8-9 generous portions.
1. Choose a 6-8 cup attractive serving bowl that is wide and shallow (a nice vegetable serving dish will do).
2. Put a layer of soft ladyfingers in bottom of bowl and arrange more ladyfingers standing up against the sides of the bowl like flower petals, rounded side out.
3. Mix sugar and1/4 cup of liqueur into hot coffee. Taste and see if you want more liqueur or sugar.
4. Spoon/drizzle coffee mix onto ladyfingers until they are completely saturated. Coffee might pool at the bottom of the bowl, so rotate the bowl to help the fingers absorb more coffee liquid.
5. In a 4-cup mixing bowl, whisk cream, powdered sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp of liqueur until stiff.
6. In separate bowl, gently stir mascarpone with a spatula to soften it. Add cream mix and gently fold into mascarpone until blended. Taste and see if you want more sugar. I find that at this stage I sometimes add up to ¼ cup of liquid heavy or whipping cream to soften the mix without making it runny.
7. Gently spoon cheese mix into bowl and smooth top.
8. Take a piece of parchment paper and cut into long ½” wide strips. Place the paper in parallel lines about 1” apart on top of cream cheese. I like to make lines on the diagonal across corners of the dish, not in line with the edges. Press the paper slightly into cheese at edges if it won’t stay. Place more strips of paper at almost right angles on top of the first row of paper. You are aiming for a latticework of paper with cheese mix showing through, including at the edges.
9. Place cocoa powder in a fine strainer or sieve (a tea strainer is great) and gently tap or stir cocoa to fall onto the open portions of cheese – so you are filling in the gaps with a fine dusting, not thick mounds.
10. Carefully lift the cocoa-covered paper strips and discard. The bowl should now have little diamonds or squares of cocoa powder alternating with white squares or diamonds.
11. Preferably chill for a few hours to allow flavors to mellow.
12. You can finish dessert with cream piped around edges and ‘scattered’ on open sections of top. Dust with grated chocolate or chocolate curls.
Tips & Alternatives:
This is very rich, so only give small portions.
Mascarpone is highly perishable, so treat the package carefully. The same goes for leftovers.
If using an 8 x 8 dish: Use 1 1/4 cups coffee and 6 Tbsp sugar, but keep the same ¼ cup liqueur.
Pour coffee/liqueur mixture into dish, then top with ladyfingers. Pour more coffee/liqueur mixture to saturate the ladyfingers, then spread the cheese mixture over the cake. Cover the cheese layer with more saturated ladyfingers, then another cheese layer. Finally, top with cocoa. Kahlua syrup topped with cake layer, more syrup so ladyfingers are saturated, cheese layer, moistened cake layer, cheese layer, top with cocoa.